Venture capital backing secures rock magazines

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The Independent Online

Two former Guardian radio bosses have teamed up to buy the leading rock music magazines Classic Rock and Metal Hammer in a £10.2m cash deal backed by Harwood Private Equity.

Future, the listed publisher of technology and gaming titles such as T3 and Tech Radar, sold the heavy metal and rock magazines as it looks to reduce its reliance on print.

John Myers, a former chief executive of GMG Radio, is the executive chairman of Team Rock, the new company behind the acquisitions. Billy Anderson, a former regional director of GMG Radio, is chief executive.

Team Rock said it would use Classic Rock and Metal Hammer to create "a worldwide platform for this large but underserved community" of rock fans and it promised further acquisitions within days.

"If you're a rock fan, there's no one place you can go to get the information online," Mr Myers said as he outlined the strategy behind Team Rock. "We want to create content that is able to be distributed from a wide range of rock genres under one banner."

Mr Myers, whose favourite band is The Who, declined to say more about his acquisition plans or whether they might involve radio or live music, although he did say that Team Rock would be about "much more than publications".

Future chief executive Mark Wood said the rock titles should "thrive within a broader music business".

The magazines had combined annual sales of £8.6m last year but made an adjusted pre-tax profit of only £200,000 and generated little income from digital operations.

Mr Wood wants Future to focus on brands that are "international and digital" and will use the sale proceeds to cut debt and make acquisitions.

The broker Numis Securities said the deal should slash Future's net debt to £3m from £16m a year ago.

Harwood is the principle investor in Team Rock but Mr Myers declined to reveal the size of its stake.

The private equity firm has an interest in publishing after a successful coup at the listed book publisher Quarto last autumn when its founder Laurence Orbach was ousted.

Harwood's portfolio ranges from the medical supplier Bionostics to the gaming provider Openbet.