24 July 2019
Bonhill Group plc
("Bonhill", the "Company" or the "Group")
Pre-close trading update
Bonhill Group plc (AIM: BONH), a leading B2B media business specialising in three key areas: Business Information, Live Events and Data & Insight, announces a trading update for the six months ended 30 June 2019 ("the period"), which comprises six months' contribution from each of InvestmentNews and Bonhill's UK business and from 10 April 2019 to 30 June 2019 for Last Word Media.
Acquisition of Last Word Media ("Last Word")
On 10 April 2019, the Company completed the acquisition of Last Word for a maximum consideration of £20.0 million. The initial consideration paid was £8.0 million, of which £6.0 million was satisfied in cash and £2.0 million by the issue of new ordinary shares. Further consideration will be payable subject to Last Word achieving certain earnings thresholds in each of the financial years ending 31 December 2019 and 31 December 2020. This acquisition gives the Group global presence in the key financial adviser and asset management areas.
Last Word Media is trading in excess of its earn out targets and the Company has started to integrate its offerings across the Group. The Board sees several opportunities for Last Word's products to be launched in the US and work has started with the first launch expected in 2019. As part of the integration, the majority of Bonhill UK's staff are expected to move into Last Word's offices in August 2019 which should lead to greater collaboration as well as supplier purchasing benefits.
The Women in… franchise continued to grow during the period with a successful launch event of Women in IT in Singapore. New one day summits were launched in London and New York to support the awards programme for both Women in Finance and Women in IT. These launches support our strategic move into the development of more educational summit and conference activity in this core gender diversity area. Bonhill UK's media sales business has flourished under new management, growing materially from last year and performing in excess of budget. We are looking at ways of further expanding the franchise.
Trading in the remainder of the Group's businesses has however been more challenging, with InvestmentNews experiencing three months of difficult trading in the middle of the period, particularly in sales of its print publication. Combined, the Board still anticipates that results for the year ending 31 December 2019 will be in line with market expectations, although there will be a much greater weighting towards the second half. The necessary remedial action has been taken and in the last two months InvestmentNews has returned to trading in line with budgeted performance.
We continue to see good growth in InvestmentNews events and research products. The shift from sales of print to events and data is occurring as planned by the Board and at a faster pace than anticipated at the time of acquisition. The Board expects to see continued growth in InvestmentNews' sales in 2019, but with a different mix and a greater contribution from the growing events portfolio and custom projects and a modest decline in print.
The Group continues to invest in hiring quality staff with, among others, Heads of Operations, Marketing and Sales joining the Events team in the period, which will enable us to continue to grow our global franchises.
On 1 July 2019, we welcomed our new Chief Product Officer (CPO), Simon Collin who has 30 years' B2B experience, most recently as CPO of Lexis Nexis UK and will contribute to the development of the Group's overall product and data strategy across all of its brands.
On 18 July 2019, we announced the recruitment of Christine Shaw as the new CEO of InvestmentNews. Christine joins from Future Plc where she was MD of Global Events and B2B managing a team of 175 people, 55 events, 15 magazines and 16 websites. Her experience will be invaluable as we further expand our events and data operating activities and mitigate the slight reduction in print.
While the investments being made in people in all parts of the Group represent a short-term cost, it provides the Group with the requisite skill sets necessary to develop and grow across its sector, business activities and product areas. Group headcount currently stands at 178.
The planned technology investment being made across the Group remains on plan and on budget. By September 2019, all parts of the Group are expected to have been migrated onto one common technology platform which should bring significant benefits, in particular in CRM and the finance function. There have been improvements in the infrastructure and e-commerce aspects of the InvestmentNews' website and the fully refreshed site is expected to be relaunched by December 2019 which will support much broader product and data opportunities. This will also mean that the Company can shortly thereafter bring to an end the Transitional Services Agreement provided by Crain Communications to InvestmentNews.
A further update on trading and prospects will be provided at the time of release of the Company's interim results for the six months ended 30 September 2019 which are expected to released in mid- September 2019.
Simon Stilwell, Chief Executive of Bonhill, commented:
"It has been another period of improvement in the overall quality of our people, business activities and geographic reach. We have an extremely strong position in the key financial adviser and asset management areas of the industry and our two most recent senior hires bring a wealth of global B2B experience that will help us achieve our goals. The investment in our people and technology platform gives us great confidence for the future. With continued progress at Last Word Media and the Women in…. franchise, the Board still anticipates that results for the year ending 31 December 2019 will be in line with market expectations reflecting acquisition timing and the trading performance of InvestmentNews."
For further enquiries please contact:
Bonhill Group plc
+44 (0)20 7250 7035
Simon Stilwell, Chief Executive
David Brown, Group Finance Director
Shore Capital (Nominated Adviser and Joint Broker)
+44 (0)20 7408 4050
Canaccord Genuity Limited (Joint Broker)
+44 (0)20 7523 8000
About Bonhill Group plc
Bonhill Group plc is a leading, AIM-quoted, B2B media company providing Business Information, Live Events and Data & Insight propositions to Financial Services, Technology and Diversity business communities in 25 countries across the world. Bonhill operates fifteen information websites, publishes four regular print titles, hosts 120 events per annum, offers a portfolio of data & insight propositions and provides a range of content marketing solutions.
The business creates content, sales and marketing opportunities, networking events and transactional opportunities for its audiences of entrepreneurs, business owners and managers, CTOs & technology leaders, asset & wealth managers, and professional women, in addition to its sponsors, advertising clients and customers. Flagship brands include: InvestmentNews, Portfolio Adviser, Fund Selector Asia, What Investment, SmallBusiness.co.uk, GrowthBusiness.co.uk, Information Age, Women in events series, and DiversityQ.
For more information visit www.bonhillplc.com