Daily Mail and General Trust’s $£70m Acquisition of New Scientist

By Demi Akinjide, Saihejpal Ailwadhi, Ben Fobel, Zac greenberg and Will Sergent (University of Bristol) and Sanjana Ramaswamy, Jinghan Jennifer Huang, William Chang (University of St Andrews)


Overview of the deal

Acquirer: Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT)

Target: New Scientist

Implied Equity Value:

Total Transaction Size: £70m

Closed date: 03/03/2021

The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) have bought one of the world’s leading science magazines, New Scientist, in a £70m deal. DMGT acquired the science and technology magazine in cash from a consortium of investors led by Sir Bernard Gray, the publishing and events veteran and a former government advisor. New Scientist has a weekly circulation of roughly 120,000 copies with about half of readers in the UK and the rest in Australia and the US. Three quarters of its revenue comes from subscriptions and is expected to generate operating profit of about £7m this year on sales exceeding £20m. DMGT is expecting it can expand the magazine’s online presence and its events arm, whose projects include the annual New Scientist Live festival.

“[New Scientist] was a natural step in our consumer strategy to improve the quality of our revenues through building up subscriptions and digital capabilities ” - DMGT CEO, Paul Zwillenberg

Company Details: (Acquirer - Daily Mail and General Trust)

Daily Mail and General Trust is British multinational media company that manages a portfolio of companies including The Daily Mail.

Founded in 1922, headquartered in Kensington, London, United Kingdom

CEO: Paul Zwillenberg

Number of employees: 9,600

Market Cap: $866.13 (as of 19/03/2021)

EV: $1581

LTM Revenue: $1,203m

LTM EBITDA: $134,000,000

LTM EV/Revenue: 1,35x


Company Details: (Target - New Scientist)

New Scientist is a science and technology magazine that is published weekly.

Founded in 1956, headquartered in London, United Kingdom

CEO: Nina Wright

Number of employees: 86

Projections and Assumptions

Short-term consequences

The acquisition primarily acts as a way for Daily Mail to expand its influence in the online media space. As expected, the physical newspaper industry suffered catastrophically during the pandemic, severely affecting DMGT’s advertising revenues. Metro, the company’s free physical newspaper, suffered a 40% fall in revenues last year, and advertising was down over 30% for the firm as a whole during 2020. Consequently, the acquisition of New Scientist shows that Daily Mail is positioning itself to take advantage of the growing demand for online media in the wake of the pandemic. The move represents a wider simplification of Daily Mail’s strategy, moving from a diverse conglomerate to a focus on a smaller set of media businesses. Zwillenberg, DGMT’s Chief Executive said last month that the company’s strategy is to “ increase the focus of the DMGT portfolio, which has resulted in the group operating in four sectors, compared to ten in 2016”. The acquisition will allow DMGT to take advantage of New Scientist’s profitable subscription model, where it receives 75% of its revenues, giving it the ability to cross-subsidise from other DMGT businesses with both capital and its existing expertise in online media, allowing the magazine to expand its readership and fulfill its international potential.

Long-term Upsides

Reporters agree that Daily Mail are ‘having a blast’ in their acquisition strategy of New Scientist’s, given the potential qualitative and quantitative long-term upsides they can exploit. One of the advantages revolve around their target’s financial potential. Given New Scientist’s pandemic-proof business model, they are expected to produce £7 million in profits. Consequently, it is natural that such acquisition generates potential long-term synergies. This appears to be confirmed by Paul Zwillenberg, suggesting that New Scientist will improve Daily Mail’s revenue through digital capabilities and subscriptions. Furthermore, Daily Mail sees this as an opportunity to grow their online presence, including the annual ‘New Scientist Live Festival’ in Slovakia – demonstrating the potential long-term financial benefits of this acquisition. The long-term upside of this deal occurs due to the cultural fit of both these companies. Given that approximately 50% of its readers are from the UK, this would allow Daily Mail to leverage its distribution network to New Scientists.