Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Cool FM owner to sell all but one of its magazines

By Holly Williams

The media company which formerly owned Cool FM is to sell all but one of its publications after it announced plans to offload 13 brands including fashion industry bible Drapers and Nursing Times.

Ascential - which was once media and publishing giant Emap - said it will hive off the 13 brands into a separate division, but added "on-going discussions" meant a sale was "highly probable". The group will be left with just one publishing title - Retail Week - after the move as it looks to focus on its events business and major growth brands.

The so-called 'heritage brands' being put on the sale block also include Local Government Chronicle, Construction News, Retail Jeweller and Architects' Journal.

It marks the latest shift away from media publishing for the firm, which first began as a regional newspaper group before going on to own a host of consumer and business magazine titles, such as FHM and Smash Hits, as well as radio stations Kiss FM, Magic and Cool FM in Northern Ireland.

In 2007 it sold its consumer magazines and radio stations - including Cool FM - to Bauer for £1.14bn.

Duncan Painter, chief executive of Ascential, said: "This move will further focus our portfolio on our largest market leading products.

"The heritage brands, with large, loyal audience communities, provide an exciting opportunity for new owners."

The group said the 13 brands being sold off made £63m in revenues in 2015.

But print advertising shrank to £9m in the 12 months to June 30, which is less than 3% of the group's revenues.

Ascential, which floated on the stock market last year, is instead focusing on its events business, which includes the Cannes Lions advertising festival, as well as other assets such as global fashion trend forecasting service WGSN.

Its flotation last February marked a return to the stock market for the firm, with the then Emap listed until March 2008, when it was bought by Apax and Guardian Media Group (GMG) for around £1bn.

The firm was renamed Top Right in 2012, then rebranded as Ascential in 2015. Apax and GMG remain shareholders.

Ascential, which is based in London, has offices in 14 countries.

Belfast Telegraph