Bauer’s Brendon Hill on Pacific acquisition: Staff, licenses, sales pitch

• After deal completes Bauer will own some brands, license others

Bauer Media has been close to a deal previously to acquire the Pacific Magazines titles, but the arrival of new Seven West Media CEO James Warburton on the scene helped move along the negotiations.

Just two months after replacing Tim Worner, Warburton has acquired Prime Media and sold Redwave Media and now Pacific Magazines.

Bauer Media CEO Brendon Hill hadn’t been involved in many of the past discussions, but he sounded happy with the deal when speaking about it on Monday.

“I’m just glad we’ve got it done now. It is great for the industry and makes [Bauer] a much more sustainable business,” Hill told Mediaweek.

Outgoing Pacific Magazines chief executive Gereurd Roberts has done a good job stabilising earns at the Seven West Media division. He managed to maintain a group of brands that perform well enough for Bauer Media to want them all.

We think all the Pacific titles work very well in our portfolio,” said Hill. “There is not a lot of crossover in readership between the titles. The size of our combined digital audiences also gives us the chance to better compete with the global digital giants.”

While many of the Pacific titles are published under license, on completion of the deal Bauer will own outright New Idea, Home Beautiful and That’s Life. “They are three big titles and very significant to us.”

Hill explained Bauer Media had spoken with Meredith already about the Better Homes & Gardens license and a deal had been agreed. Meredith also owns InStyle.

Bauer still needs to finalise licensing deals with Hearst (for the Men’s Health and Women’s Health brands) and Group Marie Claire.

About staff who will move across to Park Street to work at Bauer, Hill said those details had yet to be finalised. “At this stage we expect the staff to move to Park Street where they will start afresh in a new, bigger business. There could be some consolidation in the back-office functions. These Pacific magazines are unique and we will need the editorial staff to create them.”

Hill said the upside for Bauer’s expanded portfolio was getting more revenue stability and be able to reinvest, “to be able to grow this industry again. We can invest more into higher quality content and more into digital development to continue growing our audiences. That is key for our advertisers – bigger audiences on more channels.” Hill said the combined audience for their digital properties will be around 12m. “We will be able to do better content marketing and use data much better.”

Hill said he was happy to see Andrew Cook returning to the business. “He will be great at bringing the Bauer and Pacific teams together and making it work for our clients.” See separate item on Cook’s return to magazine publishing.

Departing sales boss Paul Gardiner is returning with his family to New Zealand after being appointed as the managing director of Ovato’s New Zealand operations.

Hill: “We will now be able to service our advertising clients better with more resources across our sales teams and our research departments and content divisions. It will be more efficient for agencies to be able to deal with one point of contact.”

Hill is well aware that for magazines to thrive they need to have a strong relationship with retailers – from supermarkets to independent newsagencies. To that end he will be visiting the annual newsagent’s conference on the Gold Coast later this week. “We will be talking about how we perhaps need to invest more in their channel to help them thrive. We also want to make sure we continue to have a close relationship with Coles and Woolworths.”

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