Guardian and Apax in £1bn buy-up of Emap B2B mags

The break-up of the Emap media business looked set for completion after the firm backed a £1 billion offer for its trade magazines and exhibitions business.

The agreed sale – to a joint venture between Guardian Media Group (GMG) and private equity firm Apax Partners – comes after the FHM-to-Grazia publisher unveiled a £1.14 billion deal to sell its consumer magazines and radio assets two weeks ago.

The business-to-business arm being bought by GMG and Apax includes trade titles such as Construction News and Retail Week.

Emap’s executive chairman Alun Cathcart said the offer was a “compelling opportunity” for shareholders, who will receive around £2 billion in total from the break-up of the business.

As well as construction and retail, the B2B arm is also focused on public sector and healthcare – with titles such as Nursing Times and Health Service Journal – as well as media and motoring.

Its conferences and exhibitions business includes the Interbuild trade show in Birmingham and the Cannes Lion advertising festival held in France every June.

Apax media partner Irina Hemmers said: “We believe that Emap is a high-quality asset which is uniquely positioned in attractive markets.”

Emap’s B2B operation, which employs around 1,500 staff, has been a stronger performer in recent times than a consumer magazines division struggling in a difficult advertising climate.

The former chief executive of the publisher, Tom Moloney, quit in May after a profits warning and job cuts across the group, leaving Mr Cathcart in temporary charge.

Emap effectively put itself up for sale in the summer as the board launched a review of the business and in November the firm posted a 16% fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £80 million for the half-year to September 30.

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