McGraw-Hill sells construction division for $320 million to private equity firm Symphony Technology Group

Sale of division, which includes Engineering News-Record, Architectural Record and the Dodge Products, draws to a close McGraw-Hill’s rich history in B2B publishing

McGraw Hill Financial last night announced that it had sold McGraw Hill Construction to Symphony Technology Group, a private equity firm for $320 million in cash. The sales includes many historic brands such as Engineering News-Reco<rd/em>, Architectural Record, Sweets, and F.W. Dodge (now known simply as Dodge Products).

“We are pleased to have found a buyer in Symphony with a strong track record of acquiring high-performance companies that will enable McGraw Hill Construction to continue pursuing growth opportunities and its proud tradition of serving the construction market,” said Douglas L. Peterson, President and CEO of McGraw Hill Financial in the company’s announcement of the sale.

ENR-iPad-coverMcGraw-Hill, which changed its name to McGraw-Hill Financial to better reflect is focus, had been a leader in B2B publishing for the last century. The company was founded by James H. McGraw in 1888 with the purchase of American Journal of Railway Appliances. In 1909 McGraw teamed up with John A. Hill, the owner of The Hill Publishing Company, to form The McGraw-Hill Book Company, which then morphed into The McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, Inc.

(Disclosure: I worked for McGraw-Hill Construction as publisher in San Francisco from 1991 to 1995, the year the company once again changed its name, this time to The McGraw-Hill Companies.)

McGraw-Hill Financial has slowly been selling off its media properties, selling BusinessWeek to Bloomberg, and ts entire television station group to The E.W. Scripps Company. In 2013 McGraw-Hill completed the sale of McGraw-Hill Education to Apollo Global Management for $2.4 billion.

Next in line for sale was McGraw-Hill Construction, which simply did not fit the new company. But there are no B2B publishers left in the U.S. who are in a position to take on such a big acquisitions. Private equity companies have devastated the industry to such a degree that few large sized B2Bs are debt-free. So the sale of the construction division to a PE firm was inevitable.

Symphony Technology Group is based in Palo Alto and has investments in such fins as Shopzilla (which yesterday changed its name to the equally crazy name of Connexity) and MSC Software. The PE firm most likely as interested in McGraw-Hill Construction for its data services, which means they may consider selling off the publications, or else better integrate them with the information services.

“We are very excited for this opportunity to acquire the recognized leader in pre-bid and bid-stage construction data and analytics. We look forward to helping the business achieve the next level of success by continuing to deliver mission critical data and industry news while enhancing analytics and tools to better serve construction professionals,” said William Chisholm, Managing Director of Symphony Technology Group.

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