Behind the Annex-Newcom partnership

In January, two Canadian business media companies acquired 67 trade media publications and digital properties from Glacier’s Business Information Group (BIG). Annex Business Media CEO Mike Fredericks, and Jim Glionna, CEO of Newcom Business Media worked for a year trying to acquire the assets. The deal was priced at $19.65m, according to Masthead, and the partnership now oversees more than 125 Canadian media brands. Glionna and Fredericks split the acquired assets evenly between them, and put the remainder into a holding company called the Annex-Newcom limited partnership.

“(The acquisition) left a number of products in the asset purchase left over,” Fredericks said. “There are a group of publications that are quite good, and some that are marginally profitable, and some that are profitably negative. We’re gradually selling them off, everything in that LP are for sale.” 

Their plan is to wind down the LP by next year, Fredericks said. They’ve begun an investiture program, intent in divesting assets to owner/operators directly. 

Glionna said it has been a challenge to integrate the assets into their respective companies, but it is a gradual process. He said integrating the cultures of the different properties has been challenging, insofar as his company was a smaller, family-run publishing operation that did $11m in sales prior to the acquisition. After the acquisition, Newcom tripled in size.

“This business was corporate,” Glionna said. “I had not been intimately involved in the corporate world, and it’s been a difficult transition for our people, who’d worked at Newcom prior to the purchase.”

Prior to the Annex-Newcom Limited Partnership, there were two major publishers who controlled the B2B market in Canada, Maclean Hunter, which was bought out by Rogers, and Southam, which was bought out by Hollinger and then Glacier, Glionna explained. “The B2B operation tended to be left on its own,” he said. “When it was a Rogers operation,  the B2B division that was once a juggernaut with Maclean Hunter, they represented half of one per cent of Rogers.”

“I think it’s going to be good, that these assets are now are home,” Glionna said. “We are B2B publishers, that’s what we do. We will nurture these assets. That’s been the change with this particular deal.”

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