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Christmas story

Deal: Buy-out of IPC

Amount: £860 million

Announced: January 5

Lead equity sponsor: Cinven

In late December 1997, Cinven, one of the largest independent private equity investors in Europe, ran a spoof advert in the financial papers boasting that no firm had closed more deals on Christmas day than it had. It was meant as a joke. No-one has ever closed a major acquisition on Christmas day. But the joke almost backfired as Cinven came close to that unenviable distinction with its £860 million ($1.4 billion) buy-out of UK consumer magazine business IPC from Reed Elsevier.

Cinven was given the go-ahead to tie up the deal after it submitted the most attractive of 10 bids from various media groups and financial investors on December 19 last year. Following some frantic work over the Christmas holiday, it closed the deal on January 5, leaving some competing bidders dumbfounded that an auction they had thought was just entering its second round was in fact over.

Cinven, like a lot of other interested potential buyers, had been tracking IPC for a couple of years, as Reed Elsevier began concentrating purely on business and technical publishing and disposed of its consumer businesses.

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