Weller nets £11m as Apax buys Incisive

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The Independent Online

Tim Weller's stake in Incisive Media, the business-to-business publisher he started in 1995, is worth some £11m under a deal announced yesterday to sell the company to the private equity firm Apax Partners for £199m.

Mr Weller, who started the business after convincing his backers to put up £275,000, will take around £8m in cash, but he and three other directors will roll 30 per cent of their after-tax proceeds into the buyout, which they will continue to run.

In return for a £5.9m investment, the managers will be awarded an 11.9 per cent stake in the business, worth £23.7m at the deal valuation.

Mr Weller, 45, started the company after he was hired by Reuters to start a magazine, only to realise that Reuters would not carry through the plan. That magazine concept was Investment Week, a publication for financial advisers, which became the first publication for Incisive.

The company began with 13 staff, some borrowed furniture and an office with a hole in the roof. Its publications now include Legal Week, Insurance Age and the British Journal of Photography. Incisive, which listed in 2000, yesterday reported first-half revenues up 33 per cent at £32.9m.

Mr Weller said he was "sad" to leave the public arena but there were too many constraints on the company's acquisition strategy as a listed company. "I want to run a much, much, bigger company. The board has discussed a number of transactions that we could not follow through on," Mr Weller said.

He said the quoted company could not borrow heavily - high leverage is the basis of the private equity business model - and Incisive shares traded at a discount to the sector, making equity issuance difficult. In recent years, among the businesses that the company has tried and failed to buy were Investors Chronicle and a collection of other business titles from Pearson and also Centaur, another trade magazine publisher.

"The discount was extremely frustrating. We delivered above-market growth, the highest operating margins in the sector and we have never issued a profits warning," Mr Weller said.

Analysts said the agreed buyout price, 195p a share - a 13 per cent premium to the company's closing share price on Wednesday - was not particularly racy and below the valuation recently put on Metal Bulletin, which was bought by Euromoney.