Penton Media hopes to regain its foothold as a trade magazine publishing powerhouse. The business-to-business information provider produces more than 110 magazines and associated websites, and about 60 industry events. It covers nearly 20 markets, such as Commercial Aviation, Food, and Electronics, with titles including Air Transport World, Electronic Design, and Broadcast Engineering. Penton also provides custom media and marketing services and rich data products (how-to manuals, valuation guides, business lists, and technical information). The company was founded by John Penton in 1892. Today it is owned by private equity firm MidOcean Partners and U.S. Equity Partners II, an affiliate of Wasserstein & Co.
In early 2010 the company filed for pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to reduce its massive $1.13 billion debt by $270 million. It operated its business as usual throughout the restructuring, and completed the reorganization just 30 days after filing for bankruptcy.
Penton Media operates about 20 offices in 15 US states and has international offices in Canada and China.
Following its emergence from bankruptcy, the company's next major order of business was the formation of the Penton Restaurant Group, which includes print, online, events, and research assets. Penton launched the Group after acquiring Nation's Restaurant News from business-to-business publisher Lebhar-Friedman. Also included in the Group are Penton titles Restaurant Hospitality and Food Management. The purchase of Nation's Restaurant News and the formation of the Restaurant Group lets Penton reach more restaurant operators in the US than any other trade publisher.
Penton has been focusing on its digital operations and branching into the marketing services arena in order to keep up with the crowded business-to-business playing field.
In 2011 it launched a new division, Penton Marketing Services, which provides sales optimization tools such as Web development, lead generation, search engine optimization, and social media consulting. The division allows Penton to tap a new revenue stream by capitalizing on its industry knowledge. The previous year the company began relaunching its business-to-business websites, complete with improved search tools and navigation, quicker updates, and more interactive content such as blogs, video, podcasts, and webinars.
The emphasis on digital media comes after Penton suffered from a shift in readers away from print media. Along with the rest of the media world, Penton experienced a decline in advertising spending as a result of the troubled economy.
In a move signaling the company's strategic push into the fast-growing field of business-to-business sustainability services, in 2012 Penton Media invested in a strategic alliance with Chicago-based GreenPoint Partners to develop and commercialize "Green Per Square Foot (PSF)", a web-based "energy efficiency marketplace. Also that year Penton Media launched WealthManagement.com, a new digital resource for financial and estate planning professionals.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2012 Penton Media acquired Farm Progress from Fairfax Media Limited of Sydney, Australia for $79.9 million. The deal significantly expanded its agriculture sector footprint in North America and directly supports a key Penton strategy of increasing investment in existing sectors that offer strong long-term growth potential.
Also in 2012 the company acquired Highline LP of the UK. Highline is a business and commercial aviation company that provides global data and sales support. Back in fiscal 2011 Penton expanded its online marketing capabilities with the acquisition of EyeTraffic.
Prism Business Media acquired Penton Media in 2007 for some $530 million. Prism combined the two companies' operations and Penton emerged as the sole surviving business. After the deal was completed its headquarters moved from Cleveland to New York and Sharon Rowlands, former head of Thomson Financial, was appointed CEO.