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Life Health > Life Insurance

Equity Firm Acquires NU Parent And Pfingsten Publishing

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Wind Point Partners, a private equity firm, has acquired Highline Media, the corporate parent of National Underwriter and the NU Online News Service, along with Pfingsten Publishing.

Highline Media and Pfingsten Publishing will operate under the corporate umbrella of a newly formed publisher, Summit Business Media.

“We are very pleased to acquire Pfingsten and Highline, which have been fast-growing business-to-business information companies,” says William F. Reilly, chairman and chief executive officer of Summit. “Both companies have outstanding management teams with excellent track records and experience. The businesses have major brands and are leading information providers in their respective markets.

“The combined enterprise has many opportunities for synergy in that Highline has a very strong position in electronic publishing, while Pfingsten has significant experience in trade shows, conferences and seminars. The fact that both are information providers to the insurance industry, for example, is a major plus.”

Although print products remain an important element of Summit’s media mix, they now account for only a little over 50% of the sales of the combined companies, Reilly says.

The 2 acquired companies “have similar operating strategies in that they are classic affinity marketing businesses,” says Reilly, who most recently was chairman and CEO of F&W Publications. From 1989 to 2001, Reilly was founder, chairman and CEO of Primedia. From 1980 to 1989, he was president of Macmillan Publishing Company.

Reilly is a University of Notre Dame trustee.

James TenBroek, managing director at Wind Point, says, “Planning for Summit includes very achievable value creation initiatives, including new product launches and acquisitions. We plan to make Summit a major force in the business-to-business information community.”

“Everyone at Highline is excited to join Bill Reilly, Pfingsten and Wind Point Partners to create a world-class information company,” says Andy Goodenough, president of Highline Media. “We have long respected Pfingsten’s leading brands in the insurance and mortgage categories. Now we can work together to pursue a coordinated strategy…to extend our joint strong positions in insurance and financial services, and in conferences and trade shows.”

Joe Bennett, president of Pfingsten, says, “We are pleased to join with Andy Goodenough of Highline to strengthen our market shares in the insurance field, further penetrate the financial services market, and increase our electronic publishing positions. We are very excited to have the benefit of Highline’s experience in electronic publishing, as we see growth opportunities in electronic media products for Pfingsten. Andy Goodenough and his team bring cutting-edge skill and experience to the electronic side.”

Wind Point Partners, a private equity investment firm with offices in Chicago and Southfield, Mich., has $2 billion in capital under management. “Wind Point focuses on partnering with top-caliber management teams to acquire solid middle-market businesses with a clear path to value creation,” the firm says.

Highline Media was formed in October 2003 to acquire The National Underwriter Company, a 110-year-old firm that publishes the Life & Health edition of National Underwriter and another edition that targets the property-casualty insurance industry. The company also publishes Claims, Tech Decisions, Insurance Advocate and Florida Underwriter.

In addition to the magazines, Highline acquired National Underwriter Company reference tools and services such as “TaxFacts” and the “Fire, Casualty and Surety Bulletins,” along with 150 other books and electronic products and three conference events.

In May 2004, Highline added insurance data assets, including suppliers of data on regulatory affairs, mergers and acquisitions, and public companies, from The Thomson Corp.

In late 2005, Highline acquired Wealth Manager magazine from Bloomberg, and then Research and Futures magazines from Adams Business Media. This year, Highline acquired the Insurance Executive Events from The Conference Group.

Highline has 220 employees and revenues of nearly $50 million.

Pfingsten Publishing, formed in 1998, is a business-to-business media company that serves 10 market segments through three business groups.

The Financial Services Group serves the life and health insurance, property-casualty insurance and mortgage origination markets with the magazines Life Insurance Selling, American Agent & Broker and Mortgage Originator.

In February 2005, Pfingsten added International Investment Conferences to its fold. That unit focuses on the global investment mining market.

Pfingsten also has an Art and Framing Group that serves various art markets, as well as an Industrial Group that targets the commercial construction, maintenance, repair and operations industries.


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