Saturday, November 27, 2010

Time Out makes big plans as venture capital buys in

By Nick Clark in The Independent, Friday, 26 November 2010

Time Out hopes to put a tough few years behind it with an ambitious expansion drive, after the man who brought hypercolour T-shirts to the UK struck a deal to buy half the publishing business.

Oakley Capital announced yesterday it had agreed to invest in a deal that values the group at over £20m. Peter Dubens runs the firm; he made his first million at the age of 22 selling T-shirts that change colour according to the wearer's body heat.

Tony Elliott, who founded Time Out magazine in 1968 as a single-sheet publication that cost a shilling, will keep 50 per cent of the group. He said: "This will give Time Out an enormous burst of energy. We have been struggling along with not enough money to do what we wanted to do. Now we are liberated to properly plan ahead."

Mr Elliott held talks with a series of potential investors over the past seven years, but was unwilling to let the magazine be swallowed by a larger media organisation.
He describes the investment as a "slightly glorious accident" after the Lastminute co-founder Brent Hoberman introduced him to Mr Dubens. Mr Elliott said: "I genuinely believe that I have found a real partner for what I expect to be a hugely successful worldwide digital journey."

Mr Dubens said it was "very rare to be able to help with such a renowned, iconic brand," adding: "Time Out has a massive digital potential." The companies have already created an expansion plan to put in place over the next three years.

Time Out publishes in over 30 countries around the world with an audience of 17 million per year. It has city magazines and websites, travel guides, applications and it runs events. Yet Mr Elliott said: "It has always been too undercapitalised to match its expansion plans. It was clear I would have to do a deal at some stage."
Full story at The Independent
Story at The Guardian.

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