Primedia, Brill Media Ventures swap stakes

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In a deal that puts a sizable chunk of Primedia's scattered holdings under one rubric while giving one of the media world's most outspoken mavens additional platforms to play with, today Primedia announced it would consolidate 172 business-to-business media-related properties under its Media Central brand and make Steven Brill its chairman and CEO. The deal involves Brill Media Holdings, which owns Brill's Content magazine and the e-commerce site, swapping a 49 percent stake in BMH for a smaller stake in Primedia's Media Central.

Buttonholed prior to the press conference, Primedia chairman and CEO Tom Rogers refused to say what incremental revenue Primedia expected to reap from the move. Mr. Rogers warned press conference attendees that no financial data beyond the sketchy information mentioned in a press release would be made available, but said Mr. Brill would be "highly" motivated to produce "top-line growth." For his part, Mr. Brill spoke about testing new editorial products, hiring additional journalists, and sharing editorial resources across Media Central titles and Brill's Content. Mr. Brill will report to David Ferm, the president of Primedia's B2B Group. As of June 30, Brill's Content's circulation was 290,101, and its ad pages have not been audited by Publishers Information Bureau since its launch in 1998.

Mr. Brill, a legendarily temperamental editor known to scrawl directives like "rewrite this in English" on copy that displeased him, has taken a less active role in the magazine he founded, but promised editorial involvement with Media Central products. That's "one of the reasons [the deal] will be fun for me," he said.

At 2:11 PM, Primedia's stock traded at $12.69, down 6 cents. Copyright January 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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