Online beauty and nutrition group THG, the owner of Myprotein and Cult Beauty, has bought free business newspaper City AM from administrators in a pre-pack deal.
All 40 editorial and commercial staff at 18-year-old City AM will become part of London-listed THG, which has a market capitalisation of around £1.3bn.
City AM’s co-founder and long-serving chief executive Jens Torpe will retire at the conclusion of the deal.
THG’s chief executive Matthew Moulding said: “We’ve long been reviewing opportunities in the disruptive media space but have waited for the right time and the right opportunity to make a digital step-change in adtech capabilities for Ingenuity,” referring to THG’s proprietary e-commerce platform.
The deal took place through a pre-pack deal from BDO, which had been appointed as administrators of City AM. Sky News had reported hours before the sale was announced that the business newspaper was “teetering on the brink of administration” but that talks with potential buyers were ongoing.
City AM’s owners said earlier this month they had been seeking investment but were now “open to a sale”.
The news brand is independently owned, with 50% of shares owned by a Dutch consortium and 25% each owned by Torpe and managing director Lawson Muncaster.
In a story announcing the deal, City AM editor Andy Silvester wrote that it means the brand “which has long been a champion of British business, will remain under UK ownership and give it the support of a partner with long-term aspirations and a strong balance sheet for growth”.
He wrote that THG will “invest in both editorial and technological resources for the newsroom as well as expanding the paper’s lifestyle and sports categories, with further investment into new areas including sustainability, wellness technology and beauty”.
Moulding said: “City AM is one of London’s leading media platforms and we will ensure this remains the case with full editorial independence. This deal helps us reach a huge new audience, complements our successful content creation studios and digital media expertise.”
Manchester-based THG itself publishes two mostly digital magazines associated with its retail brands: The Highlight, linked to beauty retailer Look Fantastic, and The Supplement, linked to Myprotein. The Highlight distributed 146,599 online copies for free every two months in July to December last year, according to ABC, while The Supplement was on 419,910.
The acquisition will bring THG and its brands “added reach into the most influential consumer and investment community in Europe”, they said.
City AM claims to have around two million monthly website unique visitors – around a 100% increase since pre-Covid – while its Monday to Thursday print edition had an average distribution of 67,602 in June. The paper dropped its Friday edition in January as it remains the quietest day for commuters following changes to working patterns introduced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Torpe said: “During our 18 years we’ve faced a few storms but none as turbulent as the past three years.
“I’m therefore delighted that a business like THG has taken over City AM. Their digital expertise will be a great asset, so after 18 years I take comfort in the knowledge that our ‘little baby’ will grow and become more than a teenager.”
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