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Bobit's dealmaking fortifies portfolio

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Ty Bobit, president-CEO of Bobit Business Media, says he was thinking about strengthening the family-held company for a third generation as he began tweaking its portfolio last year. He noted that his father Ed Bobit, who founded the company in 1961, “still comes in and contributes, and my son Blake has been working in the technology area for a couple of years.” In 2012, the company completed four deals—purchasing three print-and-Web media brands and four freestanding websites in three acquisitions, and selling a unit that included a magazine, website and trade show. “We were looking to fine-tune the portfolio, trying to make acquisitions in strategic areas and divesting in areas where it didn't make sense for us to be anymore,” he said. Although business media in general has had a wobbly recovery from the recession of 2008-09, Bobit Business Media has been able to maintain a positive trajectory. “Every year has been getting better since 2010,” Bobit said. That strong performance has enabled Bobit to make deals in a buyer's market. “Because of the strong financial situation we were in, we were able to take advantage of some opportunities,” Bobit said, declining to reveal the specifics of any of the acquisitions. “As has always been our philosophy, we were able to primarily fund these acquisitions ourselves,” he added. The largest and most significant deal for Bobit was the acquisition of Newport Business Media's Heavy Duty Trucking, Heavy Duty Aftermarket Journal and TruckingInfo.com last May. With trucking fleets added to Bobit's brands covering fleets of cars; commercial, government and auto rental vehicles; light- and medium-duty trucks; and school buses, “we're now the world's largest fleet media company,” Bobit said. With a pair of acquisitions that closed in December, Bobit was able to shore up two of its other groups. LimoforSale.com, purchased from Limos.com, is a portal for buyers and sellers of used limousines, party buses and similar vehicles. It complements Bobit's Limousine Charter & Tour Group, which includes the magazine LCT, LCTMag.com and related events. The acquisition of Auto Dealer Monthly and AutoDealerMonthly.com expanded Bobit's presence in the auto dealer market, where it already had F&I and Showroom magazine and its companion website and events. Also in December, Bobit Business Media sold its Hotrod & Restoration magazine and website, along with an annual trade show, to National Business Media of Broomfield, Colo. Although not uncommon in b-to-b media, the idea of selling a piece of the family-held company was still foreign to Bobit. “It was a rather dramatic shift on our part,” he said. Bobit Business Media may make additional acquisitions this year, but “if it doesn't seem to fit with something we have, we're not going to look at it,” Bobit said.
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