Imagine Publishing acquired by Future plc in £14.2 million deal
Deal involves compensation of 179 million new Future shares in exchange for the UK publisher of 19 magazines and the company’s bookazine business
The UK magazine publisher Future plc, publisher of such brands as T3 and Mac Format, has acquired Imagine Publishing, which Digital Photographer, Photoshop Create and other publications. The deal was paid for with 179 million new Future shares, valued at around £14.2 million, pending shareholder approval.
“This is a unique opportunity to acquire a market leading knowledge, science and technology content business which will complement and expand our capabilities,” Zillah Byng-Thorne, Future plc Chief Executive said in the company’s announcement.
“Imagine has an impressive reputation with 19 periodical magazines and is a world leader in bookazines. The acquisition will enable us to scale significantly our market position in bookazines and will see us enter the knowledge vertical, broadening our reach. The addition of Imagine with its strong management team and quality staff enables us to take a further substantial step towards our strategy of creating content that connects, increasing scale and improving operational efficiency.”
The first thing an outside observer will notice is that the total price being paid: £14 million in stock for 19 magazines means that the value of those magazine is, well, rather small, to say it in typically British understated way. To say it in plain American English: holy shit, that is cheap. Also, 179 million shares equals only £14.2 million? Yep, Future shares are trading today at 7.9p (or about 11 cents per share).
Imagine Publishing was founded in 2005 by former directors of Paragon Publishing, using some private equity backing. That generally means that the PEs involved will want to cash out at some time. But only three years in the recession hit and it would have been an awful time to sell.
Future plc, which hasn’t exactly been killing it of late, would seem an unlikely buyer, but at this price level is a great deal for the publishers, assuming they had wring some value out of the properties.
Imagine Publishing, despite its name, is a very unimaginative digital publishers, producing unreadable PDF replica apps. Future plc, on the other, was at one time very progressive in its digital edition apps. It’s first app for Mac Life was incredible, having been created by some of the same people behind Balthaser Studios, which was a pioneer in publishing using Flash (before Macromedia was acquired by Adobe). That app was probably unsustainable and soon replaced with a dull PDF replica, but in November of 2013 a new interactive app was released and that Mac|Life app remains Future’s most popular app inside the App Store (though the iPhone version is still a PDF replica, making it even more unreadable than an iPad replica would be).