Incisive buys ALM for global reach

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Wasserstein and Co. has agreed to sell its ALM magazine group, publisher of 33 legal business and real-estate titles, to London-based Incisive Media.

Both companies cited expansion goals as the impetus behind the $630 million transaction. Incisive Media is growing its US presence and doubling its number of titles with the purchase. With backing from Incisive, which has offices in London and Hong Kong, ALM is slated to move its titles into European and Asian markets.

"We live in a world where the largest law firms are becoming more global," explained William L. Pollak, president/CEO of ALM. "[Incisive is] based in London and primarily does business there, and we do all our business in North America.

"We think that by working together we can take our magazine brands to Europe and Asia, and [Incisive has} some titles it would like to expand in the US. The two companies are geographically complementary, which makes it easier for us to take advantage of marketing capabilities."

The American Lawyer magazine, a monthly with a rate base of 17,000, is ALM's leading title. A full-page ad in the glossy costs $8,000-$10,000. Combined readership for all of ALM's titles is estimated at 1 million, and its Web sites see more than 400,000 unique visitors each month.

Incisive specializes in information on finance, risk management, professional services and marketing. The company publishes such titles as Investment Week, Risk, Search Engine Strategies and Legal Week as well as producing a number of Web sites.

Both ALM and Incisive sponsor conferences and trade shows.

Pollak sees acquisition by Incisive as a marketing opportunity for ALM advertisers.

"We carry law firm advertising," he said. "They want to talk to clients who don't work in law firms - they work in companies. A good chunk of Incisive's publications are in financial and insurance sectors. A lot of the law firms that ALM deals with want to reach people in those sectors, so our market very much wants to reach people in Incisive's."

The purchase is scheduled to be finalized in the third quarter of 2007. All of ALM's senior managers are expected to retain their positions, and Pollak will join the Incisive board.

Future plans center on geographic expansion for titles from both companies. ALM and Incisive will also work together to grow and update their digital offerings, which Pollak admits are currently "old-fashioned." Video, user-generated content and a streamlined blogging network top the to-do list for reworking the sites.

"The biggest change for any publisher is what you will do for the Web," said Pollak. "Incisive has technology that we think we can use.

"At this point we don't see the legal profession requiring the move entirely [from paper] - lawyers like paper," he added. "But clearly we want to enhance what we publish in print with our online features. They are additive to the print."

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