In June, private equity investment firm Wasserstein & Co. announced it was acquiring ALM Media from Apax Partners. It would be the second time Wasserstein has owned the company, which it had built through a series of acquisitions.Apax put ALM on the block in April and the deal closed July 31. Terms were not released at the time and ALM was strangely quiet about the transaction, with any press being handled by Wasserstein.More recently, a source with knowledge of the transaction said the sale price reported by the New York Times—$417 million—is accurate, which puts the EBITDA multiple right around 8x based on $55 million in earnings.Those figures fell short of the reported $500 million Apax was seeking, but it’s still a big sale—albeit 34 percent less than when Apax bought it from Wasserstein in 2007. Especially for a company with legacy roots that has tried to move quickly into a more digitally-oriented business model. Plus, the deal reveals where private equity still finds value in such operations and allows ALM to begin fueling its growth with more capital. FOLIO: How are subscriptions breaking down between print and digital products?Carter: The large firms are all taking pure digital. To counter that we also revamped how we sold to individuals—the smaller firms and attorneys. We have a metered paywall that allows you to read five articles before you hit it, then you get an offer based on what you’ve been reading. We’ve had a significant increase in individual sales and 40 percent of those customers are taking a print/digital bundle from us. So we’re still selling a good bit of print.FOLIO: How have you invested in your technology to support these initiatives?Carter: We use as much off-the-shelf as we can. We’re willing to pay a little more for a premium product. That’s allowed us to easily expand. And going forward it’s becoming easier to pull it out and replace it if it loses its best-in-class. We’re much more in the buy camp, but that doesn’t apply to everything. We do some of our own custom development. During the economic downturn in 2009, ALM became an independent company following a split from Incisive Media. Apax dropped its stake in ALM from 71 percent to 51 percent and the Royal Bank of Scotland took over the remaining 49 percent in a debt-for-equity swap.FOLIO: sat down with ALM CEO Bill Carter, who joined the company in 2012, for an exclusive interview about the sale and what’s in store for the company going forward.FOLIO: How did the deal come together? Why did Wasserstein decide to double-dip?Bill Carter: [Apax] acquired us in 2007 and the deal was reaching the end of its lifecycle. Because of the 2009 restructuring, there were restrictions put on what the company could do and it limited our growth opportunities. It prompted the board to have a discussion on what was right for the company and they began looking for interested parties.Wasserstein emerged because they had the deepest understanding of our revenue streams and they appreciated our challenges.FOLIO: What goes into valuing a B2B media company these days and how is that different from just five or six years ago?Carter: I think the markets are pretty good right now in terms of raising debt, especially if you have a business that’s performing well. Buyers want to look at the stability of your revenue streams and there’s certainly a bias toward subscription revenues and events.There is still a factor that goes into any B2B company that’s being looked at right now and that is how well they held up during the 2008 cycle. Everyone acknowledges a revenue swing. But how big was that swing?We swung a lot less and stayed relatively profitable. We have cyclical and counter-cyclical revenue, which stabilizes things. Scale plays a factor, too.FOLIO: A couple years ago you told FOLIO: you were working on improving ALM through customer growth and renewals, expanding the sales organization and adding more product technology like RivalEdge. How have you evolved that thinking since then?Carter: The biggest initiative that guided us over the last three years has been corporate subscriptions. Historically, ALM had sold to individuals, not to law firms. In 2012, we did an analysis at the top firms and what they were spending with us. We had breadth, but not depth. One lawyer would route his subscription to 20 other lawyers, but it was an individual sale.We set as our goal the top 850 law firms—they should each have one license to all ALM’s products. And we could tailor that content to how they wanted it.To do that we had to re-engineer marketing and sales—bring in sales experts who knew how sell licenses.We also had to completely rebuild the infrastructure. We grew up as a roll-up of acquisitions. Everyone had their own groups. We standardized the websites and print products, but more importantly we standardized the taxonomy. So now we can serve up the content that’s relevant to that user.This was the area that got Wasserstein excited. It cracked a problem they saw in 2005, 2006—how do you get that younger reader?FOLIO: We’re talking digital now, aren’t we?Carter: Yes. When we looked at the lawyers who had the subscriptions and also looked at the online usage we had many more people getting our daily alerts. But they were hitting the paywall. The associates don’t have the ability to make that purchase. So we went to the corporate librarians—younger attorneys are getting the alerts but now they’re reading the content.And that’s why Wasserstein won [the deal]. Wasserstein got that immediately, the other bidders didn’t understand it as much.FOLIO: How have the site license sales been performing?Carter: We’ve had double-digit growth on corporate site licenses. Our circulation counts are way up and our circulation revenue is way up overall. Circulation is all of our subscription brand products, separate from our information solutions, which are also subscription-based.
Now playing: Watch this: 1 Preview • YouTube TV has promise, but needs to grow before it’s worth $35 (hands-on) Review • YouTube TV review: The best premium live TV streaming service 1:26 YouTube TV’s price hike, Disney Plus details YouTube TV has a reward for some of its “longtime friends.” David Katzmaier / CNET YouTube TV appears to be offering some subscribers a summer of free Showtime. The live TV streaming service is giving “longtime friends” a subscription to Showtime at no cost through Sept. 5, 2019, according to offer messages shared by customers on social media.”Wowza!! I just got a free summer of @Showtime from @YouTubeTV no strings — just for being a loyal subscriber,” tweeted Rich Greenfield on Thursday, along with images of the offer. YouTube TV apparently won’t automatically bill customers for the Showtime subscription once the deal has ended. “You can add it back if you love it, but that’s totally up to you,” reads the offer message. (Editors’ note: Showtime is a part of CBS, which also owns CNET.)Earlier this year, YouTube TV raised its monthly price from $40 to $50. The Google-owned service is one of a handful of subscription options aimed at cable TV cord-cutters who want to stream live TV channels such as ESPN, TNT and CNN, as well as local channels including ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. Its competition includes Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now, each with different channel packages and pricing.YouTube didn’t immediately respond to a request for more details. Comment News • YouTube TV is now available across the US Share your voice Wowza!! I just got a free summer of @Showtime from @YouTubeTV no strings — just for being a loyal subscriber (spectrum has never done that) pic.twitter.com/o2xU5ySmjK— Rich Greenfield (@RichBTIG) June 14, 2019 YouTube TV Tags TVs Digital Media Showtime YouTube
Buyers of petrol and diesel vehicles may have to pay an extra green cess as the government is planning to tweak its electric and hybrid vehicles promotion strategy.The government plans to revamp the Fame-India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicle) scheme to shift the focus away from subsidies, according to reports.The scheme under which the government has disbursed Rs 305 crore to about 2.6 lakh vehicles is set to end on March 31, 2019. The government launched it on April 1, 2015, initially for two years. It extended the scheme four times, each time by six months, after the initial period ended on March 31, 2017.The scheme has so far helped save 3.75-crore litres of fuel preventing the release of 9.37-crore kg of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.Though the government earlier indicated it would launch Fame-2 once the current period of extension end on March 31, 2019, it is yet to release the details. Instead, it has been pushing the production of lithium-ion batteries that are necessary for electric vehicles.The new approach will be to use the funds raised from the green cess to provide infrastructural incentives to producers of electric and hybrid vehicles, news reports say. The calculation is that increasing cost of owning petroleum-fuelled vehicles will encourage prospective owners to look at electric and hybrid options.This will help the authorities reduce the direct subsidy on electric and hybrid vehicles, including two and three-wheelers, under the Fame scheme.”Instead of increasing the finance department’s burden of providing subsidies to electric vehicle buyers through a timeless scheme of incentives, the government is actively considering putting a green tax on all petrol and diesel cars,” MoneyControl website reported quoting a source.The subsidies that the government pays range from Rs 7,500 on low-power electric scooters to Rs 61 lakh on hybrid buses and nearly Rs 1 crore on fully electric buses.The sales of electric vehicles have begun to pick up only from mid-2017. Automakers have been reluctant to launch bigger cars and SUV powered by an electric motor because of the high initial cost that might deter buyers.”An additional Rs2,000 or Rs2,500 on a car or Rs300 on a two-wheeler will not put any significant burden on the buyers, but will generate a huge corpus for the government,” the source said.
BALURGHAT: Trinamool Congress MP and youth wing president Abhishek Banerjee has appealed to the public to uproot BJP from the soil of Bengal in the upcoming Parliamentary Elections in 2019.Addressing a rally at Dishari Ground here in Balurghat, Banerjee said: “In the Left regime, we heard the names like Hat Kata Dilip, Kan Kata Dilip (nicknames of popular Left-backed goons during the party’s rule in Bengal). Now, the people of Bengal are hearing the name of BJP’s Dilip Ghosh, who is already popular for his abusive languages. The saffron brigade has no control over him. If our leader Mamata Banerjee instructs us, no one can find a single flag of BJP across Bengal.” Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeAttacking the party at the Centre, Banerjee said: “BJP divides people using religion. This is nothing but petty politics through which BJP is trying to polarise voters. But Bengal’s soil is different, where people will never entertain such devastating politics.”Criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his role in the attack on Trinamool and party supremo Mamata Banerjee, the youth wing president said: “Seven births are not enough for Modi to oust Mamata Banerjee from Bengal. The Chief Minister, during her two-term tenure, has undertaken a plethora of development projects like Sabuj Sathi, Kanyashree, Shikshashree, Yubasree and many more. Bengal has been running peacefully under her guidance and ruling but there is total anarchy and unrest everywhere else for the misrule of BJP in the Centre.” Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedBanerjee also compared the Prime Minister with Gabbar Singh, a popular villain from the 70s Bollywood film Sholay.”We are ready to fight with the communal forces in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll. BJP will never form the government there. Mamata Banerjee has set a target to defeat BJP. We will win all 42 seats here. Bengal is the soil of Matangini, Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath. Our integrity is great but nowadays we are hearing only Jai Sree Ram,” Banerjee said. Attacking ‘Aadhaar’, Banerjee said: “The Central government has already created panic among people in the name of Aadhaar card. People are now scared of it.”Attacking the Left Front, Banerjee said: “CPI-M and other Left parties are now taking shelter under BJP’s umbrella for existence. They have no ideology at all. People have already rejected them for misrule from Bengal.”Veteran Trinamool leaders like Firhad Hakim, Subrata Bakshi, Chandrima Bhattacharjee, Arpita Ghosh and Biplab Mitra echoed Banerjee and said people are now ready to oust BJP from the Centre, while Trinamool will win all 42 seats and will take the lead role to form government at the Centre in 2019.