Commentary

Blackstone's Purchase Of IDG Is Mostly About Tech Data, Not Publishing

Private-equity giant Blackstone this week bought International Data Groupfor $1.3 billion in another sign that investors are finding acquisition targets in the publishing industry. The company previously was owned by Oriental Rainbow, a unit of Chinese billionaire Lu Zhiqiang's China Oceanwide Holdings Group.

IDG operates technology consulting firm IDC and publishes digital titles Computerworld, CIS, CSO, InfoWorld, Macworld, Network World, PCWorld and TechHive. Many of those titles started as print publications covering the burgeoning tech industry before the internet drove a shift to digital.

Its IDC Communications unit gradually discontinued those print editions amid several reorganizations and rounds of layoffs.

Blackstone's acquisition follows IDG's efforts to build up its marketing technology and data. Last summer, it acquired Triblio to expand into software for B2B sales and marketing, touting the integration with its media brands and first-party data. IDG last month bought IT pricing service Metri, bolstering its data offering.
With Blackstone's financial backing, IDG is poised to make additional acquisitions, though it's more likely it will seek deal targets that complement its specialty in tech consulting, marketing and data. It's less clear whether Blackstone will push to dispense with IDG's media brands.
It's hard to classify the acquisition of IDG as a media industry deal, given that the company's publishing unit is a shadow of what it once was. While Blackstone is a private-equity firm, the acquisition isn't comparable to the Apollo Global's purchase of Verizon Media or Alden Global Capital's deal to buy the remainder of Tribune Publishing it didn't already own.

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