Euromoney wins Metal Bulletin battle

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The Independent Online

The financial media group Euromoney has come up trumps in the battle for Metal Bulletin after agreeing a £221m deal yesterday, derailing a merger previously agreed between Metal Bulletin and fellow business publisher Wilmington.

The deal will bring a £35m windfall for the Waltons, one of the founding families of Metal Bulletin and the biggest shareholder at 16 per cent. The Rice-Oxley family will net £8.6m for its 4 per cent stake, and the chief executive, Tom Hempenstall, will get £2m for his shareholding.

Euromoney, which is 70 per cent owned by the newspaper group Daily Mail & General Trust, is paying 400p a share, though shareholders can take part payment in Euromoney shares. This is up from the proposal of 340p (with a quarter to be paid in Euromoney shares) rejected on 17 July.

Analysts said the deal could spur mergers between the other major listed groups in the UK ­ Centaur, Emap, Incisive, Informa, Pearson, Reed, UBM and Wilmington. Wilmington could be snapped up after failing to take over Metal Bulletin, an insider said. Euromoney, which is borrowing heavily to fund the purchase, ruled out another big deal but said it was always keen to make smaller acquisitions.

Euromoney said adding Metal Bulletin's subscription base and strength in electronic publishing would reduce exposure to volatile advertising markets and boost profitability from year one. The deal will create cross-selling opportunities and cost savings estimated at £5m. Job losses are to be limited to "a handful".

Richard Ensor, the Euromoney managing director, said the group would generate more than a third of its profits from electronic publishing, compared with 12 per cent now. He stressed the good fit between the two businesses, which are both focused on financial publishing.

Analysts at Numis said: "Although it is paying a full price, there is no denying either the strategic logic of the bid nor Euromoney's ability to extract value."