VIZ not sold in huge acquisition deal, Billy the Fish unlikely to appeal the lack of a transfer

VIZ Promotional Art

Johnny Fartpants can breathe as easily as he might ever hope to. Adult comic VIZ is unaffected by the recently-announced sale of many Dennis Publishing titles to SFX owner Future plc, the UK’s largest magazine group – and one of the fastest-growing publishers in the United States.

VIZ 308 - September 2021

Future announced the approximately £300m acquisition of Dennis Publishing last week, but four Dennis titles – VIZ, Fortean Times, Cyclist and Expert Reviews – will be retained by the Exponent private equity, which itself had acquired Dennis Publishing for £167m in February 2019.

Future has purchased The Week UK, The Week US and its respective Junior titles, MoneyWeek, Kiplinger, Science & Nature, IT Pro, Computeractive, PC Pro, Minecraft World and COACH, “a high-quality portfolio of trusted brands that will accelerate our strategy,” feels Zillah Byng-Thorne, CEO of Future, “enhance our content capabilities and bring additional geographical and vertical revenue diversification, whilst materially increasing the proportion of recurring revenues across the Group.” (Is he auditioning for VIZ, anyway?)

What’s New in Publishing notes the acquisition also brings Dennis’ famed subscription capability, a powerful subscription conversion engine, to Future’s platform. This is an under the bonnet part of the deal that reflects just how vital subscriptions now are to publishers to ensure long-running success for their titles. Over three-quarters of Dennis’ revenue is derived from its 1.2M subscriptions with subscriber retention rates of more than 85%.

Fortean Times 409 - September 2021

Dennis’ motoring portfolio which was spun off earlier this year to create a separate company, Autovia, and does not form part of the deal and is expected either to be sold separately or floated in an IPO. Autovia combines AutoExpress, Car Throttle, Carbuyer, Driver Power, evo, Octane, Vantage, Driving Electric with the online sales expertise of Buyacar to drive leads to dealers and car manufacturers.

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