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October 27, 2022updated 14 Nov 2022 7:26am

Lord Ashcroft’s Political Holdings agrees £4.5m deal to buy Politics Home and other Dods media assets

By William Turvill

Political Holdings, a media company owned by Lord Ashcroft, has agreed a £4.5m deal to buy Politics Home and several other assets from Merit Group, which counts Lord Ashcroft as its largest shareholder.

The deal marks an expansion for Political Holdings – which already owns Conservative Home, Biteback Publishing and Campaigns and Election, a service for campaign professionals – and a restructuring for Merit, which will now focus on “business intelligence”.

Political Holdings is a private company owned by Lord Ashcroft. As of June, Lord Ashcroft (pictured) owned a 42% stake in the publicly-listed Merit Group, formerly known as Dods Group.

Under the deal, Political Holdings will be acquiring Politics Home, as well as magazines for Westminster (The House), Edinburgh (Holyrood) and Brussels (The Parliament). Other titles acquired will include Civil Service World, Training Journal and Public Technology.

Lord Ashcroft-owned Political Holdings will also buy several events under the Dods brand, including Women into Leadership, Civil Service Live and the MEP Awards, as well as its growing training business.

Merit said today that, following a strategic review of its business, it had concluded that it was “overly diverse and complex given its market size”. It has therefore decided to “focus its future strategy on its core data and intelligence offerings”, including Dods Political Intelligence, a service with 800 subscribers across the UK and Europe.

In a statement announcing today’s deal, Merit said the media, events and training operations being sold to Political Holdings generated revenues of £9.3m last year and adjusted earnings of £0.5m. In 2022, Merit’s total revenues were £27.4m.

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David Beck, the chief executive of Merit Group, said: “This is an important step for Merit. The disposal will allow us to focus on the parts of the group with recurring or subscription revenue, attractive margins and strong cash generation. Following the disposal we will become fully focussed on the business intelligence sector.

“This transaction, together with the disposal of our minority stake in Social 360 announced in July, will mean we have raised £5m from the disposal of non-core assets. When set against our market capitalisation of approximately £8.5m these are obviously significant strategic developments.”

Mark Wallace, the chief executive of Political Holdings, said: “This deal opens an exciting new era for us and for the brands which will be joining our group.

“Political Holdings specialises in insightful, expert content and events that illuminate politics, government and the democratic process, so the operations we are acquiring are a natural fit for our growing business.

“The resulting group will have great potential to grow each of its constituent parts further and faster, combining our existing expertise with a host of new perspectives, covering a diverse range of issues and institutions, and maintaining the political neutrality of the acquired brands.

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming and working with our new colleagues.”

Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

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