A clearer M&A picture emerges

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Chuck Richard is VP-lead analyst at Outsell Inc., a media market research company. Prior to joining Outsell, Richard was VP-business development and client services at media investment bank Jordan, Edmiston Group. Media Business: To what do you attribute the significant pickup in media M&A deals the last few months? Richard: Buyers and sellers achieving more clarity in what's happening in the markets. Put another way, reduction in the fog of what lies ahead. The sellers would have welcomed the proceeds at any time in the past 18 months, but the buyers really needed to have a better sense of the outlook for the properties they were buying. MB: What's the biggest challenge right now among those private equity players that have recently formed new companies to acquire trade titles? Richard: The challenge is how does a private equity firm, which doesn't have a centralized development staff, build an agile organization and offer the mix (print, digital, mobile) that advertisers and audiences will continue to access and consume. MB: How do you see prices and multiples for trade titles shaking out this year? Richard: High multiples are accruing to any b-to-b online and digital services, mobile services and video services. They'll remain modest and low on the legacy side, and you'll continue to have buyers taking advantage of unusual multiples there. You've seen a flood of these properties hitting the market, and that's depressed prices. —M.S.
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