Foresight Group (Foresight), on behalf of funds it manages, is pleased to announce the successful realisation of the investment in Factory Media Limited to Forward Internet Group (FIG). FIG is a privately owned European business, which operates a portfolio of web brands and digital media assets, and has acquired a majority stake in Factory Media.
Subject to working capital adjustments, the transaction (including loan repayments) will realise c.£8.0m for Foresight funds, over two times cost of c.£3.8m. In addition, further consideration is held in escrow and, subject to various other conditions, a further c.£1m may be released to Foresight funds over the next two years.
James Livingston, Investment Director at Foresight Group said: “We’re delighted to have generated another good return for our investors through this exit, particularly given the challenging economic backdrop. It was a pleasure working with such a professional and dynamic management team, who have navigated the changing media landscape so successfully. l have no doubt the company will continue to grow and innovate successfully in partnership with Forward.”
Darryl Newton, Managing Director of Factory Media said: “Foresight enabled and supported us in realising the potential of the business and we are now excited to be part of a media technology business that can accelerate this growth even further. Having the support of Forward Internet Group’s digital expertise will have a significant impact on the development of our media assets. We are excited that an innovative and fast growing media technology business has seen the potential in our teams, brands and audiences.”
The Foresight funds made the investment in Factory Media in 2006, backing the MBO/MBI of three action sports publishers. Having integrated and consolidated the businesses to drive operational economies of scale, during 2007 Factory began investing heavily in its digital business, notably MPORA and its magazine websites. The company grew successfully, particularly within digital, and during 2010 and 2011 successfully acquired a number of further media titles in the UK and Europe.
Darryl Newton added, “The initial investment in Factory afforded us the flexibility to develop our business in pace with the market, and seize opportunities to build a Company that ultimately became very attractive to Forward Internet Group.”
Today, Factory Media is one of Europe’s largest action sports media owners and is currently focused on two market segments, board sports and cycling. Factory publishes 19 consumer magazines and 25 targeted sports websites, along with its flagship digital offering MPORA.COM. In addition, during 2011 Factory launched MPORA GEAR, a product comparison platform for the worldwide cycling and snowboarding markets. Staff numbers have almost doubled to over 100 since the 2006 investment and the company now has offices in Germany and France, as well as the UK.
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Notes to Editors
Foresight is an independent alternative asset manager, which focuses primarily on investments in unquoted UK and European companies or projects and offers investors exclusive access to attractive income and growth opportunities.
Foresight has in excess of £600m assets under management across a number of funds, including Limited Partnerships, Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs).
The Foresight Private Equity team, comprised of eight investment professionals, invests between £1m and £5m in management buy-outs, management buy-ins and growth capital investments in UK SMEs. The strength and depth of the team has enabled Foresight to lead the consolidation of the VCT sector, taking over the management mandates of established VCTs, such as Advent VCT, Advent 2 VCT, Noble VCT, Keydata Income 1 and 2 VCTs, Acuity Growth VCT and Acuity 3 VCT, from other investment managers.
In the solar sector, Foresight’s solar funds have already invested in more than £300 million of operating PV assets in Italy, UK and Spain.
Foresight is the manager of the most successful VCT of all time, Foresight VCT, which has returned more than 100% of the fund to investors in dividend payments since launch in 1997, representing £30m. Foresight VCT was also the best performing VCT in 2011 with a growth in its share price of 51% (Source AIC)
Factory Media is Europe’s largest and most innovative Action Sports media owner. The Company publishes traditional print and new media brands reaching over 500,000 readers and 4 Million online users every month. The business currently focuses on two market segments, Boardsports and Bike, with an international footprint and multilingual products.
Factory and its staff have won numerous nominations including Digital Consumer Publisher of the year, Designer of the year, New Editor of the year, and are extremely proud of their 27 year brand heritage in the Action Sports market.