Media M&A Booming: $13.8B Spent in 1Q Deals

Following on the trend of an improving overall economy, media mergers and acquisitions continue to climb.

Some $13.8 billion in deals were transacted in the first quarter of 2011 -- that's more than half of the $28.6 billion posted for all of 2010, according to investment bankers Berkery Noyes.

The biggest was West Australian Newspapers Limited's announced deal of Seven Media Group, a subsidiary of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., with a price of $4.15 billion. With this merger, the investment banker says the newly formed Seven West Media, Inc. becomes Australia's largest media company.

The next-biggest: Cumulus Media bought Citadel Broadcasting for $2.4 billion. Other big deals in the period: Hearst buying up the International Press and Magazine Business from Lagardere SCA for $893 million and News Corp. purchasing the Shine Group for $669 million.

Three of the transactions in the period were over $1 billion, which were 61% of the first-quarter tally. Nine transactions were more than $300 million, compared to just 15 deals for all of 2010.

In terms of individual transactions, AOL and WebMediaBrands were the most active acquirers in first-quarter 2011, based on the number of announced transactions -- each with four businesses purchased either directly or through a partner or affiliate.

AOL bought up: About.me, Outside.in, The Huffington Post and GoViral. AOL's acquisition of The Huffington Post was for $315 million, the eighth-biggest deal of the period. WebMediaBrands took on: Twittercism, SemanticOverflow.com, FacebookMarketing.de, and European Semantic Technology Conference.

Transactions involving blog sites such as HuffPo, according to Berkery Noyes, have been climbing. Blogs accounted for nine transactions in the first quarter. This comes to 40% of the 22 announced blog deals for all of 2010.

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