The parent company of the Hollywood Reporter, Billboard magazine and Adweek has been sold for $220 million cash to a Dutch publishing giant, the parties announced Friday.
Netherlands-based VNU plans to buy BPI Communications, a joint venture whose partners include the New York Times Co. and the investment group Boston Ventures. Boston Ventures has been the principal company behind BPI. The New York Times acquired its stake, believed to be one-third, in October when it acquired Affiliated Publications, parent of the Boston Globe newspaper.
A spokeswoman for BPI said the acquisition of the one-third stake by the New York Times was not a factor in the sale. A separate source close to the company said that the BPI executives chose to sell because VNU’s offer was attractive. Publishing sources estimate BPI’s annual revenue at close to $150 million.
BPI publishes 19 magazines, including three of the nation’s best-known trades. Billboard chronicles popular music and has long been referred to as “the bible of the music business.”
The Hollywood Reporter, along with Daily Variety, is one of Hollywood’s two main trade papers, while Adweek competes with Advertising Age as one of that industry’s major trades.
BPI is also involved with information services, including Adweek News Wire, Billboard Information Network, Broadcast Data System and Entertainment News Wire. It also produces the Billboard Music Awards Show for the Fox network.
VNU is little known in the United States, where its main activity is involvement in a research company and a joint venture with the Arbitron ratings firm. It publishes newspapers, magazines and books, and is involved with business information services throughout Europe. The company said its annual revenue is about $1.2 billion.
Hollywood Reporter Publisher Robert J. Dowling said he believes the acquisition in the short term will have little impact on the operations at BPI’s various publications.
“The management will stay the same,” he said. “Part of what they bought was the management.”
Dowling said in the long term the acquisition would benefit the Hollywood Reporter in its efforts to grow internationally. The publication has a circulation of about 29,000 and distributes its Tuesday edition internationally.
Sources said the sale is expected to get a routine review from federal antitrust authorities but no problems are anticipated.