Summit wheels and deals

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Summit Business Media's back-to-back acquisitions last month of Wicks Business Information (WBI) and Agent Media position the company as a major player in key b-to-b markets, including finance and insurance.

Summit was formed last November when William Reilly, former CEO of Primedia, and private equity firm Wind Point Partners teamed up to buy Highline Media and Pfingsten Publishing.

Summit announced June 8 that it was acquiring WBI, a media company serving financial services and legal markets in North America. Summit is merging the company into its Highline Media unit, which specializes in the financial and insurance sectors and includes National Underwriter Co. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

WBI, a unit of Wicks Group of Cos., publishes Credit Union Times, Inside Counsel, Investment Advisor, Treasury & Risk and their respective Web sites. It also produces custom publications and live events. Its Executive Enterprises seminar unit produces more than 100 courses annually for accountants, lawyers and tax professionals.

Roland DeSilva, managing partner at media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips, which represented WBI and Agent Media in the deals, said: "Summit has a strategy to dominate the b-to-b space for insurance, legal and financial services. The WBI deal is a key to that strategy."

WBI generates about $30 million in annual revenue, while Agent Media's annual revenue is estimated at a little less than $10 million.

"The deals are almost too good to be true," Reilly said. "They fit within Summit's overall strategy of giving us a serious position in insurance markets, followed by financial markets."

Andrew Goodenough, president of Highline, added that the deal provides synergy between Investment Advisor and Highline's Wealth Manager and Research, for example. "It's a better opportunity for customers interested in packaged buys," he said.

Doug Manoni, CEO of WBI, will be leaving the company after a transition period. Asked what his plans are, he said: "You'll see me resurface. I won't rule out the possibility of going back to Wicks Group or other options."

Less than a week after it announced the WBI deal, Summit said it was acquiring Agent Media for an undisclosed sum. Agent Media publishes Agent's Sales Journal and Insurance Marketing. It also manages a 1.6 million name database of licensed insurance agents. Roscoe Smith, president of Agent Media, has remained with the company.

Reilly said that by acquiring Agent Media, "We're getting the lower and middle ends of the [insurance] agent market. We have total coverage of the insurance agent market, and most important is the database of names." Highline serves the middle and higher ends of the market.

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