Specialist UK magazine publisher Future Publishing, which publishes video game magazines such as Edge, Official Xbox Magazine (in the UK and the U.S.) and Official PlayStation 2 Magazine (in the UK), has made a £96.5 million ($182.1m) offer to acquire fellow British rival Highbury House Communications. The terms of the proposed deal, which still require shareholder approval, would see 10 Future shares being offered for every 83.25 Highbury shares, at a share capital of £31.6 million ($59.6m).
Highbury had admitted that it had received an offer last month, but refused to reveal the name of the suitor – although few imagined it could be anyone other than Future. Highbury’s magazine division is the only remaining rival to Future’s total dominance of the British video games magazine market.
The division itself, as Paragon Publishing, was bought out by Highbury over a year ago, in a move that appeared to put it beyond the reach of Future. Now though the giant publisher has made a bid for the whole of Highbury House Communications.
Future also recently acquired Dennis Publishing’s much smaller portfolio of video games titles, closing down long-running but low-selling competitive magazines such as Computer & Video Games as a result of the acquisition. What will become of Highbury’s much larger suite of publications - including GamesTM, Play and XBM - is unclear but staff were informed of the deal this morning, and that it would take several months to be completed.
If the deal is successful, Future would gain complete dominance of the British market and would subsequently, no doubt, begin to look further afield for other new opportunities - U.S. subsidiary Future Network, currently pared down, is rumored to be considering 2005 expansion plans.