Accountancy Age Owner Eyes Alchemy Debt Deal
The owner of the audit profession's bible Accountancy Age is preparing for a financial restructuring eight years after it was acquired by the private equity giant Apax Partners.
Sky News understands that Incisive Media, which is one of the largest publishers of professional magazines in Britain, has begun talks about a debt-for-equity swap that would take place later this year.
The deal would enable Incisive, which also owns Computing, Investment Week and Legal Week, to shed its £100m-plus debt mountain and refocus on growing the business.
Alchemy Partners, the investment firm once headed by Jon Moulton, the prominent venture capitalist, has been acquiring Incisive Media's debts from other holders in recent weeks and is expected to undertake similar purchases in the coming days, according to people close to the situation.
Alchemy now owns roughly a quarter of Incisive's borrowings and would end up as a major shareholder if the restructuring proceeds.
The company is chaired by Dame Helen Alexander, a former president of the CBI.
The plans for a debt-for-equity swap are at an early stage and could change, one insider said on Friday. Lenders to the company, including the state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland, would need to give their consent before it could take place.
A strategic review undertaken by Incisive's board, led by the chief executive Tim Weller in conjunction with advisers at Gleacher Shacklock, is understood to have concluded that a sale of the company at this stage would not be in its best interests.
Incisive was founded in 1995, when Investment Week, its maiden title, was launched in print.
Since then, it has been forced to adapt like other business-to-business publishers to rapidly-changing readership habits. The company owns websites including Yourmortgage.co.uk, IFAonline.co.uk, ClickZ.com, a search marketing portal, and V3.co.uk, a technology marketplace V3.co.uk.
"The company wants to free up its balance sheet after years of having to focus on servicing its debt," said one City source.
Like many companies, Incisive was acquired by private equity firms during the takeover boom which reached its peak in 2006.
Apax paid £208m for the business in 2006, and then forked out a further $600m in 2007 for the American Lawyer Media stable of magazines.
The two businesses were subsequently unstitched when Apax retained the US titles and surrendered control of the UK portfolio to the company's lenders.
Incisive, whose debts were extended until the end of this year under an agreement struck last spring, declined to comment.
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