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BNP feeds food portfolio

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Ascend Media's recent sale of its Professional Services Division to BNP Media will enable Ascend to sharpen its focus on the health care sector and BNP to strengthen its presence in food and beverage markets.

The division includes all 17 brands associated with the Stagnito Food, Beverage and Packaging and Gaming units. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Among the assets that BNP Media acquired are: Beverage Industry, Candy Industry, Food and Drug Packaging and Refrigerated & Frozen Foods Retailer.

However, there is some editorial overlap to be addressed. For example, the recently acquired Dairy Field is similar in content to BNP's Dairy Foods. Ditto regarding Stagnito's New Products and BNP's Prepared Foods.

"We're in the process of trying to reposition Dairy Field," said Tagg Henderson, co-CEO of BNP Media, who added that the acquisition will add about $25 million to $30 million in top-line revenue, turning BNP into a $125 million company.

"We're trying to flesh out what the end result will be, but we're confident we can position it [with advertisers] so the two titles are complementary to one another," he said.

Henderson said the assets acquired from Ascend in the packaging space, including Brand Packaging, Flexible Packaging and Food and Drug Packaging, are more research-driven, which plays into one of the larger trends in b-to-b media—making more market data available to customers. The Gaming division, which includes casino-style video-gaming, gives BNP entry into what has become a lucrative market.

"They're looking at growth in the upper single digits in revenue and double-digit growth in the high teens for earnings," said Cameron Bishop, president-CEO of Ascend Media, when asked about the financial strengths of the Professional Services portfolio.

By divesting the professional services unit, Ascend can now focus exclusively on the health care industry. Its properties include The American Journal of Managed Care, Internal Medicine World Report and Practice Builders, a marketing consultancy for physicians, dentists and physical therapists.

"The [Professional Services Division] never was a strategic fit for Ascend," said Kathleen Thomas, a managing director at Berkery, Noyes & Co., the media investment bank that represented BNP Media in the deal. "[The deal] is a perfect acquisition for BNP Media because it rounds out its portfolio in areas in which it already has a presence and will strengthen its dominance in food markets."

Media investment bank DeSilva+Phillips represented Ascend in the transaction.

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