Strategic players look to make deals

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The M&A marketplace remains extremely strong, as strategic players angle for more consolidation, said Charles E. Engros Jr., managing partner in the New York office of law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius and head of its media practice.

"Strategic companies are eager to divest assets that are not part of the core and invest in assets that will improve their market position," Engros said. "A very fragmented market lends itself to consolidation."

Engros stressed that publishers are also whetting their appetite to purchase "social media" assets. "They're still grappling with Web 2.0 and want to take control of interactive Web sites," he said.

The rub with social media, Engros said, is that b-to-b media companies can create "great community sites that are valuable to customers but don't generate revenue."

With that in mind, a strong commitment to measurement should be part and parcel of companies' efforts to acquire social media assets. "The answers [to a social media strategy] are unique to each company," Engros said.

Both strategic players and private equity companies are paying much closer attention to price multiples for b-to-b media properties, he said. "People remember 1999 and 2000, and are reluctant to do something that might be perceived as too exuberant," he said.

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