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Buyers home in on digital assets

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Seth Alpert is managing director of media investment bank AdMedia Partners. Media Business: Do you anticipate more b-to-b media companies being sold this year? Seth Alpert: To the extent that b-to-b media companies have really figured out digital, they'll be highly saleable. For those who really haven't yet, or who are predominately offline, it's going to be very challenging to find an exit. MB: What's been driving the increased M&A activity among strategic b-to-b media companies? Alpert: It varies case by case, but I think that for some of these players, some of the terrible things that they were suffering through, starting with the Lehman Brothers crisis (in late 2008), have ameliorated. Times are a little better, and debt is more available than it had been—maybe not back to the peak—to support acquisitions, which is particularly important for private equity-backed acquisitions. The overall M&A market, from where I sit looking at both media and marketing services, is dramatically better this year. MB: What kinds of properties are media buyers focusing on? Alpert: It's back to the digital theme. If your company has really figured out the mix of forms of media distribution—print, online, tablet, mobile devices—you're going to be highly desirable to a strategic buyer, or even a PE buyer, to the extent that whatever vertical markets you're covering match up well with somebody who has some money and really needs what you've got.
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