Willis Stein & Partners, Chicago, signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ziff Davis Publishing from Ziff Davis Inc. for $780 million in cash. The transaction should close in the first quarter of 2000. Willis Stein has teamed with James D. Dunning Jr., who will serve as chairman-CEO of newly formed Ziff Davis Holdings and chairman of Ziff Davis Publishing. Mike Perlis will continue as president-CEO of Ziff Davis Publishing. Mr. Dunning and Willis Stein plan to use Ziff Davis as a platform to launch new special-interest magazines, acquire additional magazines and create ancillary businesses. ZDNet will remain as a separate business. The offices will remain in New York. Mr. Dunning was the executive behind the turnaround of Petersen Publishing, which he and Willis Stein purchased in 1996, and sold in January 1999 for $1.5 billion to U.K-based Emap.
Copyright December 1999, Crain Communications Inc.