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Affiliated Publications to Buy Publisher of Billboard

March 24, 1987|WILLIAM K. KNOEDELSEDER Jr. | Times Staff Writer

Affiliated Publications, parent of the Boston Globe, has agreed to pay $100 million for Billboard Publications, which produces the weekly trade paper considered the bible of the recording industry.

Boston Ventures Limited Partnership, a Boston-based investment capital firm, is selling the Billboard firm, which also publishes 7 other specialty magazines, including Back Stage, Musician, American Artist, Photo Business and a European news weekly called Music & Media. In addition to the Globe, Affiliated owns 45% of McCaw Communications, which has interests in radio, cellular telephone and paging systems.

"In Billboard we saw a tremendous opportunity to buy an excellent company in the growing business of specialty magazines," said Daniel Orr, vice president of Affiliated. "Newspapers are our first priority, but we have a strategic plan, and magazines come under that plan. We bought a company we are optimistic about, particularly the management."

The $100-million price reflects recent dramatic financial improvements at Billboard under its present management. Boston Ventures purchased the company from its founder, William Littleford, just three years ago for $40 million.

According to Billboard President Gerald Hobbs, the company expects sales of $62 million in 1987, up from $58 million last year. "Our revenues grew by 33% last year; our profit margins improved dramatically, and we cut some overhead expenses."

Hobbs said the company's flagship publication, Billboard magazine, accounted for just $18 million of the company's total revenues last year. "We have diversified greatly in the last few years," he said.

Under a separate agreement, Hobbs and other members of Billboard's current management will buy back up to a 10% stake in Billboard Publications after the Affiliated acquisition.

The Billboard deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions of entertainment industry trade publications. Last November, Times Mirror Co., a diversified media company whose holdings include the Los Angeles Times, agreed to buy Broadcasting magazine for $75 million. In December, Los Angeles-based Westwood One, parent of several radio networks including Mutual Broadcasting, bought the radio industry trade magazine Radio & Records for an undisclosed sum.

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