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Daily Mail owner buys New Scientist magazine in £70m deal

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Daily Mail owner buys New Scientist magazine in £70m deal” was written by Mark Sweney, for The Guardian on Wednesday 3rd March 2021 12.43 UTC

The publisher of the Daily Mail has acquired the renowned weekly science and technology magazine New Scientist in a £70m cash deal – the latest round of consolidation in the publishing sector.

The 65-year-old title, which is owned by a group of individual investors led by Sir Bernard Gray, is based in London, with offices in the US and Australia. New Scientist, which employs about 80 staff with half in editorial roles, is forecast to make £7m in profits and more than £20m in revenues this year.

“New Scientist is a world-renowned publication loved by its readers, and we are both thrilled and proud to welcome it to the DMGT family,” said Lord Rothermere, the chairman of the Daily Mail and General Trust, the parent of the Mail, Metro and i newspapers.

“We are very much looking forward to supporting their exciting plans to grow as the go-to publication for anyone interested in the scientific world around us.”

It is understood that DMGT, which agreed a deal to buy New Scientist in just three weeks, has guaranteed the magazine’s editorial independence, ruling out staff cuts as well as the sharing of editorial content.

Founded in 1956 for “all those interested in scientific discovery and its social consequences”, the publication has a weekly global circulation of 134,000 for its print and digital editions. Just over half are UK-based, and three-quarters are subscribers to the magazine, which sells an average of about 84,000 copies per week, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The publisher has has also expanded into events, with the New Scientist Live festival of science.

“The acquisition of New Scientist marks an exciting new addition to the DMGT portfolio and reflects our disciplined approach to acquisitions,” said Paul Zwillenberg, the chief executive of DMGT. “It is a natural step in our consumer strategy to improve the quality of our revenues through building up subscriptions and digital capabilities.”

DMGT has been building its publishing portfolio with selected acquisitions in recent years, including the £49.6m deal to buy the i newspaper two years ago.

Gray’s consortium, which operates the business under New Scientist Group Limited, acquired the magazine four years ago from Relx, formerly known as Reed Elsevier, which had owned it since 1970. Financial filings name the directors as Gray, his business partner Louise Rogers, Richard Lenane of the private equity firm Exponent, and Nina Wright, New Scientist’s chief executive, who was made a director last February. The filings state that “directors and other key management personnel” have shares in the company.

Gray previously bought Tes, formerly knows as the Times Educational Supplement, from Rupert Murdoch’s News International (now News UK) in 2005 in a £235m deal backed by Exponent.

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In 2018 he was named executive chairman of Time Inc UK, owner of titles including Country Life and Woman’s Weekly. He relinquished the role after Future Publishing acquired the business from its private equity owner two years later.

The sale of New Scientist is the latest in a string of magazine deals. Last month, the New European, the anti-Brexit magazine founded after the referendum in 2016, was acquired by a consortium of investors including the former New York Times chief executive and ex-BBC director general Mark Thompson.

In December, JPI Media, the regional publisher that owns famous newspapers including the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, was acquired for only £10m.

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