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M&A Report: Forbes, ViacomCBS and Virgin Atlantic In the News

M&A Report: Forbes, ViacomCBS and Virgin Atlantic In the News

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In keeping with our mission to provide comprehensive advertising analysis, MediaRadar puts together a report of the most important mergers and acquisitions news each week. Stay in the loop, whether you sell advertising space or focus on business development. 

This week, Forbes expands its revenue streams with an analytics investment, Viacom and CBS remerge to stave off stiff streaming competition, and Richard Branson drops his plan to sell his majority stake in Virgin Atlantic.

Quantalytics AI Labs Acquired by Forbes 

Forbes Media has purchased a majority stake in stock prediction tool, Quantalytics AI Labs, formerly known as Quantamize. 

Quantalytics utilizes artificial intelligence to analyze and forecast stock performances. This acquisition comes almost one year after Forbes celebrated its most profitable year in a decade.

The actual figures were never publicized, but CEO Mike Federle claimed 2018 brought revenues up by more than 18 percent as profits increased by 42 percent. Forbes, which is owned by Integrated Whale Media Investments, a Hong Kong-based investment company, plans to incorporate predictive insights from its new analytics toy in their reporting, delivering it to their 94 million monthly unique visitors and 45 million social media followers. 

The acquisition of Quantalytics is just one step in a broader business strategy for Forbes to diversify their revenue avenues. Last year, the media organization also acquired The Memo, a British online business publication. 

Viacom Merges With CBS Corporation 

Viacom and CBS have re-merged to create the entertainment industry’s newest conglomerate, operating the studios of Paramount Pictures; cable channels like Showtime, BET, Nickelodeon, MTV, VH1, TV Land, The CW, and Comedy Central; and the major publishing house, Simon & Schuster

While the final cost of the transaction was not disclosed, previous releases valued the deal at up to $15.4 billion. 

The on-again, off-again relationship between the two companies started when they first merged in 1999, then broke up in 2005, and are now back together as ViacomCBS. This reunion speaks to the philosophy that the two entertainment entities are stronger together, as they compete against internet companies including Amazon and Netflix. They intend to take on the streaming giants by beefing up their own streaming service, CBS All Access. The platform will offer 14 original shows, including Star Trek: Discovery, The Good Fight, Why Women Kill, and The Twilight Zone. 

Richard Branson Drops His Plan to Sell Stake in Virgin Atlantic Airways

According to Bloomberg, British billionaire Richard Branson is dropping his plan to sell part of his airline company Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. to Air France-KLM Group. Branson will keep his 51 percent majority stake in the company. 

His plan, which was announced two years ago, would sell a 31 percent stake in his airline company for around $284 million. The original plan was to set up a revenue and cost sharing three-way venture between Branson, Air France, and Delta Air Lines, which already owned a 49 percent stake. 

Although the sale will not move forward, the original revenue and cost sharing pact will still hold, according to people familiar with the negotiations. A final agreement between Virgin Atlantic and Air France should be reached in the weeks to come. 

In Other News

These are some other notable deals and developments from the past week: 

  • Private equity giant, Silver Lake Partners, has purchased a 10% stake in City Football Group (CFG) for $500 million. 
  • Energy Transfer LP, owner of one of the United States’ largest and most diversified energy asset portfolios, has acquired SemGroup Corporation. The acquisition was valued at approximately $5 billion according to the previous announcement
  • Kings & Convicts is acquiring craft beer brand Ballast Point and its associated production facilities and brewpubs from Constellation Brands, Inc. Although financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, Constellation had bought the craft beer brand in 2015 for approximately $1 billion.  
  • Astellas Pharma Inc., a Tokyo based pharmaceutical company, and Audentes Therapeutics, Inc. have announced a definitive agreement for Astellas to acquire Audentes. The acquisition is valued at $3 billion dollars and is expected to close within the first quarter of 2020.  
  • Hostess Brands and Voortman Cookies Limited have entered into a definitive agreement under which Hostess will acquire Voortman Cookies. The agreement is valued at approximately $320 million and is expected to close in early January of 2020.
  • Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. announced that it is acquiring steel maker AK Steel Holding Corp. for $1.1 billion in a stock deal.