Reed snaps up Disney trade mags

NEW YORK — Reed Elsevier, parent of Daily Variety, agreed Monday to acquire Walt Disney Co.’s trade magazine publisher Chilton Business Group for $447 million in cash.

The acquisition enlarges Reed’s U.S. trade publishing operations by more than one-third, adding Chilton’s 39 titles to the 90 magazines published by Reed’s Cahners Publishing Co. The combined group will be renamed Reed Elsevier Business Information, headed by CEO Bruce Barnet.

The deal will particularly strengthen Reed’s presence in the entertainment industry, adding Chilton’s Multichannel News and Video Business to Reed’s Variety, Daily Variety and Broadcasting & Cable, among others.

Reed also picks up Chilton’s exhibitions division, to be merged with Reed Exhibition Cos. North America.

“The acquisition provides an outstanding opportunity to bring together two preeminent U.S. information companies,” Reed co-chairman Nigel Stapleton said.

“The acquisition and ensuing merger into the newly named Reed Elsevier Business Information reflect the importance Reed Elsevier places on growth opportunities in the U.S. market,” said executive vice president Mark Lieberman, who is in charge of the Reed Elsevier cluster that includes Daily Variety, Broadcasting & Cable, Publishers Weekly and other entertainment and communications publications. “The addition of established magazines like Multichannel News, Video Business and Communications Engineering Design will greatly strengthen our company’s ability to be a key information provider in these fast-growing industries.”

For Disney, the sale is the latest step in a program to divest the Mouse House of the publishing businesses it inherited in the acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC Inc. So far, Disney has raised $2.1 billion, and it still has on the market Institutional Investor, agricultural newspapers and a group of Pennysaver free shopping newspapers and some daily newspapers.

A Disney spokesman declined to comment on the size of what is left, but investment bankers said the remaining properties could be sold for as much as $1 billion, bringing total sale proceeds to more than $3 billion, which is higher than originally expected. Disney stock dropped $1.87 to $80.37 Monday. Reed Elsevier stock was down 1 pence to 571 on the London Exchange on Monday.

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