German publisher Hubert Burda finalises deal to acquire 70 UK brands including Radio Times

German media owner Hubert Burda is building up its UK empire with the purchase of Immediate Media, parent company of 70 brands and magazine titles including Radio Times, in a deal thought to be worth around £275m.

BBC Worldwide, which licenses its magazine content to Immediate Media and therefore had final consent on the bid, today (12 January) confirmed to The Drum that it has approved the acquisition, and that it’s relationship with Immediate Media will not be impacted.

“As far as we are concerned it is business as usual,” a BBC spokesperson added.

The UK group comprises over 60 magazine titles, including its most profitable magazine Radio Times, and event business Radio Times Festival. The music title, formerly published by the BBC, still sells around 660,000 copies per issue in print.

Radio Times was one of 11 titles sold outright by the BBC in 2011 to Exponent Private Equity, which later created a publishing division in Immediate Media. Exponent fought off competition from Bauer Media, as well as Hubert Burda and Future which also took an interest in the magazines at the time.

18 BBC programme-branded titles, such as Gardeners’ World and BBC Wildlife, were licensed to Immediate Media. A third group of titles, including Top Gear and Good Food, were retained by BBC Worldwide but published by Immediate Media under a contract publishing agreement.

In 2014 Immediate paid £24m for Future Plc’s sport and magazine titles, including Cycling Pls, Simply Knitting and Mollie Makes.

Hubert Burda currently publishes a number of UK specialist titles including Your Home, Land Love and HomeStyle. It previously published real-life titles Love It! and Full House! in the UK but sold them in 2012.

Paul-Bernhard Kallen, chief executive of the Hubert Burda, told the Financial Times the acquisition will increase Burda’s UK revenues to about £270m a year, or around 12% of total annual sales.

Kallen said: “Immediate Media is a great platform for print as well as digital consumer businesses in the UK.

“The successful management team brings strength and depth across publishing, technology and e-commerce and has built a growing, profitable company with a large and loyal customer base. We believe Burda and Immediate Media match perfectly – with regards to the business segments as well as to the entrepreneurial mindset of both companies.”

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