August 12, 2014 Last Updated 3:41 pm

Cygnus Business Media sells construction and logistics groups to start-up AC Business Media

New owners have backgrounds in investment and law; magazine group will remain with the same management teams and continue to publish from Fort Atkinson

The break-up of Cygnus Business Media continues with the sale of the heavy construction group to a new B2B start-up, AC Business Media. The new company will continue to publish the titles from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin and will bring along the management and operations teams.

SustainableCon-iPadThe group is a major portion of Cygnus’s business and includes six trade magazines: Asphalt Contractor, Concrete Contractor, Equipment Today, Pavement Maintenance & Reconstruction, Rental and Sustainable Construction. Equipment Today is the largest of the magazines, with a BPA-audited circulation of 77,000 subscribers. The Logistics Group includes Food Logistics and Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazines.

While the magazines are not leaders in their field, the new company is entering a B2B publishing environment where many of the companies are owned by private equity companies or their bankers and are not investing it digital media. Cygnus, which did launch a couple native apps in late 2011, including one for Sustainable Construction, has never launched a Newsstand app. It also consolidated its magazine websites into general industry sites such as its construction site which features only press releases and content from other media companies.

The new owners are Anil K Narang, who will be chairman, and Carl Wistreich, who will act as CEO. Narang Narang served as COO of Oak Tree Educational Partners, Inc. until 2011, and before that was president of Alliance Entertainment Corporation. Wistreich was a lawyer in NYC and was previously CEO of BRS Capital. The third part of the management team will be Kris Flitcroft who managed the titles at Cygnus, she becomes Executive Vice President.

If the new B2B firm wants to expand they will find plenty of properties available. Many B2B have been hanging since the fiscal crisis of 2008 and have been hoping for a ad page turnaround that has not come. A good place to invest would be in properties outside of construction but where the same advertisers that target construction also are to be found: housing (due for a rebound) and agriculture. While so little competition online and in mobile and tablets platforms, the company could also experiment with digital start-ups in new industries.

Last year Cygnus sold its agriculture books to American Farm Bureau Federation, and earlier this year put its Public Safety group up for auction.

Disclosure: Many moons ago I worked for McGraw-Hill’s Construction Information Group, and later was the publisher of Roads & Bridges, a transportation construction magazine that somewhat competed with the Cygnus titles.

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