Private equity group buys Phillips investment newsletters

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Private equity firm Avista Capital Partners has agreed to buy the assets of Phillips Investment Resources LLC, a primarily online provider of subscription-based investment advice for individual investors.

The deal involves newsletters like Louis Navellier's Blue Chip Growth, Tobin Smith's ChangeWave Investing, Dan Wiener's The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors and Richard Band's Profitable Investing. Terms of the sale were not disclosed by the Jordan, Edmiston Group Inc., a New York investment bank that advised seller Phillips International Inc.

" Phillips is basically the largest and most successful direct marketer of consumer finance newsletters and electronic trading advisories in the industry," said Scott Peters, managing director at Jordan, Edmiston. "They essentially set the standard for direct mail and highly successful e-mail marketing to the self-directed investor."

Started 33 years ago, Phillips Investment Resources uses online newsletters and Web sites along with print newsletters to deliver 23 subscription-based advisory services on a range of investment topics. An estimated 220,000 subscribers receive the content.

Avista plans to broaden Phillips Investment Resources' investment-related service offerings. The goal is to create a leading media brand in the investment advice area.

John Coyle, president of Phillips Investment Resources, will keep his job as will his management team. The entire staff will continue to work out of their Rockville, MD, office.

Avista has investments in Thompson Publishing Group, Midwest cable operator WideOpenWest and the Star Tribune Co., which publishes the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune newspaper. Founded in 2005, the company has offices in New York and Houston, TX.

The Phillips Investment Resources deal is expected to close Jan. 31. National City Bank will provide the financing. Choate, Hall & Stewart advised Avista. Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker was legal counsel to Phillips International.

This is the second change in seven years for Phillips Investment Resources. The brand in early 2000 migrated its business model from essentially a direct mail business to what is now mostly an e-mail marketing business, Mr. Peters said.

"They should be the poster child for how traditional direct marketers should embrace electronic marketing to drive better results on the top and bottom line of the company," he said.

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