B2B media company Cygnus Business Media sells off its last brands to SouthComm Inc.
The end of Cygnus Business Media came today when the company sold off its remaining titles and trade shows to SouthComm Inc., a company that previously picked up the public safety and transportation divisions. Included in this sale was Green Industry Pros and Aircraft Maintenance Technology among others, as well as four Facilities Expo events, Aviation Pros LIVE and other trade shows.
Corporate Solutions, which represented Cygnus in their divestment efforts, said 10 trade shows and 10 publications were involved in the latest sale (the previous sale to Southcomm involved 11 publications and 7 trade shows). “This is the fifth and final transaction for this company and concludes a year-and-a-half process.” Nick Curci, president of Corporate Solutions, said.
The end of Cygnus comes with a whimper. The company, which can trace its origins back to Photographic Trade News in 1937, really begins with Johnson Hill Press which launched in 1957 in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Fort Atkinson is an out-of-the-way small town that would be the last place one might expect to find a national B2B publishing company. Recruiting editorial and sales personnel was often a challenge for the company, though those who moved to Wisconsin often stayed for years.
In 1997, the company got caught up in the B2B boom when the investment firm Kelso & Co. funded a major expansion. Just a couple of years later Paul Mackler and ABRY Partners acquired the company and further expansion ensued.
But the B2B boom was all about playing musical chairs and those investors that sold out early made huge profits while those that didn’t often found themselves in debt, and often were forced to reorganize. Cygnus’s turn came in 2009 when it was not able to pair down its debts and filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It emerged from that process with less debt, but a new CEO tasked with dismantling the company. That CEO, John French, appears to have completed the task at hand and another B2B company will disappear for good.
““Five years ago we embarked on a mission to improve Cygnus and return value to our shareholders,” French said in a statement in November, announcing the first sale to Southcomm Inc. “During the last several years, the company has worked hard to turn its properties into multi-platform industry-leading brands because we knew one day the company would be sold.”
SouthComm is the publisher of the Nashville Scene and Nashville Post and is backed in its deals by Credit Value Partners of Greenwich, Connecticut (meaning the days of investor ownership of these B2B properties is not over even now).