Country Life owner buys Dennis Publishing in £300m deal

Future continues buying spree with purchase of 12 titles including The Week and Computer Active

Future, the owner of titles including Country Life and Metal Hammer, has acquired the publisher of magazines including The Week and Minecraft World in a £300m deal.

The deal is the latest in a buying spree by Britain’s biggest magazine publisher, which spent almost £600m buying the comparison site GoCompare in November, and will hand a significant profit to Dennis Publishing’s private equity owners Exponent.

Future is buying a portfolio of 12 titles including the adult and junior versions of current affairs title The Week in the US and UK, MoneyWeek, Coach, Computer Active, PC Pro and IT Pro.

Exponent, which acquired the publishing company founded by the late Felix Dennis in 2018 for £166m, is keeping Viz, Fortean Times, Cyclist and Expert Reviews. Dennis’ automotive magazines, which include Auto Express and Octane, have already been spun off into a separate company called Autovia, which is chaired by the former MoneySuperMarket chief executive Peter Plumb.

“I am delighted to announce the acquisition of a high-quality portfolio of Dennis’ trusted brands that will accelerate our strategy,” said Zillah Byng-Thorne, the chief executive of Future.

Future, whose market value has increased from about £30m to £4.7bn over the last seven years, was one of the top risers on the FTSE 250 on Monday as investors welcomed the latest round of consolidation in the publishing sector.

“In the three years that the business has been owned by Exponent, Dennis has been on an incredible growth journey, delivering double-digit increases in subscription revenues, a greatly increased US footprint and significant bottom line increases,” said James Tye, the chief executive of Dennis.

Dennis reported revenue growth of 12% to £105m last year, as adjusted profits rose 14% to £20m, according to the financial filing announcing the deal. Future said it expects to make £5m in annualised cost savings at the Dennis business by 2023.

This year Exponent hired LionTree Advisors to find a buyer for Dennis, which attracted interest from publishers including News UK, which evaluated a bid focused on The Week brands.

Daily Mail and General Trust, the publisher of the Mail, Metro and i, considered a bid for Dennis when it was put up for sale three years ago when Exponent emerged as the buyer. In March, DMGT paid £70m for the New Scientist magazine, and spent £49.6m buying the i newspaper two years ago.

Future has been on a buying spree in recent years, with the company seeking to expand in the ailing magazine market while also moving towards a primarily digital model.

The company cemented its place as Britain’s biggest magazine publisher last year after completing a £140m deal to buy TI Media, formerly Time Inc UK, which publishes 40 titles including Horse & Hound, Woman & Home and Wallpaper.

Contributor

Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Country Life publisher Future to buy GoCompare for £594m
Takeover means another huge windfall for comparison website’s Sir Peter Wood

Mark Sweney

25, Nov, 2020 @3:41 PM

Article image
‘Hand on heart, I don’t do this for money’: Zillah Byng-Thorne on success at Future
The CEO shares the secret of how she masterminded the magazine publisher’s remarkable turnaround

Mark Sweney Media business corresponddent

23, Aug, 2021 @5:00 AM

Article image
No need to fret: Metal Hammer magazine saved from closure
Future Publishing buys firm’s classic magazines, websites and events including 30-year-old Metal Hammer for £800,000

Mark Sweney

08, Jan, 2017 @7:52 PM

Article image
Marie Claire owner reports record profits on back of Covid reading boom
Future’s share price soars as it says full-year results will be ‘materially ahead’ of expectations

Mark Sweney

19, May, 2021 @6:09 PM

Article image
Ex-GMG Radio chief's venture buys Future Publishing titles in £10.2m deal
John Myers heads new business, TeamRock, which has bought Classic Rock and Metal Hammer magazines. By John Plunkett

John Plunkett

02, Apr, 2013 @6:48 AM

Article image
Future Publishing cuts more than 400 jobs as part of restructure
Total Film publisher reports £35.4m loss in year to end of September, with digital making up 63% of total ad revenue

Mark Sweney

21, Nov, 2014 @9:39 AM

Article image
Shares in magazine publisher Future fall 20% after it reports £19.3m loss

Publisher blames torrid year on its US operations and freezes dividend until 2013. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

24, Nov, 2011 @6:20 PM

Article image
Future Publishing reports £19m loss
Magazine publisher Future cancels dividend until 2013 after £19.3m loss. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

24, Nov, 2011 @8:29 AM

Article image
Future Publishing reports 45% fall in profits
Magazine publisher says market remains challenging as revenues fall to £68m. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

20, May, 2011 @10:00 AM

Article image
Future Publishing to cut 55 jobs
Restructuring from print-based business to digital publisher sees company downsize back office. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

03, Sep, 2013 @12:25 PM