Michael Heseltine's Haymarket magazine empire has bought a stake in the digital training business The Knowledge Engineers, as it diversifies further beyond publishing.
The Knowledge Engineers' founder Niall McKinney is understood to have sold the minority stake for a seven-figure sum. A former chief marketing officer of Lastminute.com, he set up the company in the Silicon Roundabout area of east London "before it was trendy" in 2007.
He employs 22 staff, with offices in New York, Singapore and Sao Paulo in Brazil, and turnover of about £3m. Clients include Google, WPP and Time Warner,
Haymarket Media Group's chief executive Kevin Costello said The Knowledge Engineers' focus on digital marketing training was "a good fit" with its own business magazines such as the advertising bible Campaign and PR Week.
The Knowledge Engineers' global reach was also attractive to Haymarket, which is diversifying with 30 per cent of turnover coming from digital, 20 per cent from events, and print just 50 per cent.
Mr McKinney said there was strong demand. "Our whole business is predicated on the idea that marketing is moving from traditionally soft-skills industry to a hard-skills industry based on analytics and internet search," he said, adding that being a UK company was a big advantage: "Spend on digital per head of population and spend on e-commerce per head of population is higher in London than any other city in the world. London is considerably more sophisticated in digital marketing than other markets."