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August 11, 2015

Showbiz news agency WENN buys Cover Media and launches brand-celeb ‘gifting’ business

By William Turvill

Showbiz news agency WENN has announced the acquisition of Cover Media and the launch of a new "gifting" business connecting brands with celebrities.

Cover Media, a "content production company specialising in premium entertainment and lifestyle content for digital publishers", was founded by Matthew Walker in 2010. The company has bureaux in London, LA, Italy, Germany, France and Japan.

Walker is to join WENN as a co-managing director with Owen Beiny.

WENN, which is 25 years old, said in a statement: "Cover Media is likely to be the first of a number of acquisitions and new WENN businesses, the first of which is Indulge House."

Chief executive Lloyd Beiny told Press Gazette that WENN has around 55 full-time staff – including 25 across editorial and pictures. Cover Media has 20 full-time editorial staff. Both companies also use freelances.

Beiny said there are "no immediate plans to change the total number of staff".

Asked why WENN had chosen to buy Cover Media, Beiny said: "I think that most people in the content business are aware that the landscape's changed significantly over the last few years.

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"And in order to develop we have had to look at acquisitions. And Cover Media is a very exciting, young company with tons of potential. And we like the people. So it was a no-brainer, really."

Asked about the differences between WENN and Cover Media, he said: "They certainly operate in the same area as us, but not in photos. They produce text content, both entertainment – which is where we see eye-to-eye. But also they're involved in producing fashion content and health content and cooking content – all kinds of content that we're not involved with, so it fits together quite nicely."

WENN also announced today the launch of Indulge House, a "gifting suite". Its website says: "Indulge House is an individual gifting experience combining cutting edge, luxury products and beautiful design.

"Products and designers are carefully chosen to pair with invited guests, for the ultimate in discreet pairing of celebrities and brands."

Lloyd Beiny said that the service, providing giving brands the opportunity to present their products to celebrities, is the first of its kind.

"We felt that there was space in the market for not only a professional company to come in and do it, but also to make a permanent gifting suite," he said.

"So up till now they've all been what you call pop-ups, temporary things, and we're making a permanent location."

WENN opened a suite in Los Angeles in June and the chief executive said there are plans to move to London this year and Berlin in 2016.

He said: "What the benefit to brands is, is that for a relatively small amount of money they get their brands with celebrities.

"But also because of WENN's global distribution of content, we  take care of getting it out to the media as well.

"So it's a win-win – or as someone said, a WENN-WENN situation."

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