ALM to become U.S beachhead for Incisive Media

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London-based Incisive Media, which last week agreed to buy ALM from U.S. Equity Partners for $630 million in cash, has been on an acquisition roll. ALM will be the third b-to-b media company that Incisive has purchased this year.

Further, ALM will be the fourth b-to-b media organization Incisive will have acquired since management joined with Apax Partners, an equity investment group, to take the company private in a December 2006 deal valued at about $550 million.

Incisive’s prior deals were for U.K.-based business publishing companies: MSM International in December, the U.K. operations of VNU Business Publications in February and Central Banking Publications last month.

Incisive signed a definitive agreement to acquire ALM on July 5, according to a joint news release from the two companies.

“We have been looking to acquire a U.S. business for a while,” said Tim Weller, founder and group chief executive of Incisive. “We’ve got a job to do to integrate ALM into our company, but we certainly see ALM as a major platform for continued expansion in North America.”

Bill Pollak, president-CEO of ALM, will continue to run it as a U.S. division of Incisive.

“It’s likely that our brand in the U.S. will be something like ALM, an Incisive Media company,” Weller said.

“Although Incisive Media is the acquirer, we see this as more of a partnership with Bill and his senior management team,” Weller said. Upon completion of the transaction, which is expected in about six weeks, Pollak will join Incisive’s board.

Pollak outlined three key things Incisive will provide ALM. “One is technology and support for the further development of our online business,” he said. “Incisive has technology behind its Web sites that’s a little bit better than we have behind ours. So instead of having to go out and buy new [technology], we think we will be able to leverage off investments Incisive has already made.”

In its stable of b-to-b titles, Incisive already has Legal Week, a news publication for U.K. lawyers. “Incisive provides us with a clear path to expanding our legal presence internationally,” Pollak said. “We have wanted very much to have a presence in London, which is the second biggest legal market in the world after New York. Incisive also has an operation in Hong Kong, which is in the fast-growing part of the world [Asia] for the legal industry.”

The third advantage, Pollak said, is Incisive’s experience with acquisitions. “We’ve done acquisitions, but I wouldn’t say it’s an area of expertise for us,” he said. “We’re looking forward to taking advantage of what they’ve learned in this area.”

ALM, formed in 1997, publishes 33 national and regional magazines and newspapers, including The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, The National Law Journal and Real Estate Forum. The company is also one of North America’s largest producers of conferences and trade shows for the legal profession.

Other ALM operations include book and newsletter publishing, court verdict and settlement reporting, professional education seminars, market research and content distribution.

Incisive operates in four principal markets: financial services, risk management, professional services and marketing services.

Credit Suisse represented U.S. Equity Partners in the transaction. Incisive was advised by Greenhill and Co., Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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