Cirrus Media prepares to sell Franchise Business as break-up of B2B publisher continues

Business publisher Cirrus Media is seeking a buyer for Franchising magazine in a sale that would leave the company with only its health and wealth titles remaining.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 9.22.15 am


In a separate move, Cirrus last month registered the name Australian Doctor Group with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), raising speculation the company could also be gearing up to cash in on one of its most lucrative, and only surviving, titles.

It also emerged that Kartik Natarajan, who has led the healthcare division since June 2014, has departed the company and been replaced with head of corporate development Bryn McGeever, a former sales director of the healthcare titles.

Kartik Natarajan

Natarajan has been replaced with Bryn McGeever, a former head of corporate development

Cirrus Media declined to comment.

A sale of Franchise Business may come as little surprise given Cirrus Media’s three-year strategy under private equity ownership to gradually sell its titles.

Other publishing groups are understood to have been sounded out, including Next Media which publishes a number of B2B and consumer titles including surfing magazine Tracks, football mag FourFourTwo, TV Soap, Organic and teen mag Girl Power.

Since Catalyst Investment Managers acquired what was then Reed Business Information Australia (RBIA) – Australia’s largest B2B publisher at the time – almost the entire portfolio has been sold, including Travel Weekly, B&T, Lawyers Weekly, Hospitality and its industrial, mining, manufacturing and agricultural titles.

The publisher’s architecture, design and building division, which included the flagship title Architecture & Design online, became the latest asset to disappear from its portfolio when Cirrus completed a sale in June to Indesign Media Asia Pacific.

The sale of Franchise Business may hasten the departure of Billy Tucker, managing director of Cirrus Business Media, who will have no publications to run.

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 5.14.09 pm

Billy Tucker: Nothing left to run at Cirrus if Franchise Business is sold

Tucker was brought in under former CEO, Jeremy Knibbs, in October 2013 but, following Knibbs’ departure the following year, has spent the majority of his tenure at Cirrus preparing titles for sale.

The final sale, that of Cirrus’s powerhouse divisions of health and wealth, will be the most important and potentially lucrative for Catalyst as the private equity firm looks to exit the publishing business with some return on its investment.

Cirrus Media chief executive John King, speaking with Mumbrella earlier this year, acknowledged that under private equity ownership “everything will be for sale at some point”.

He singled out the former industrial portfolio under RBI – franchising and architecture and design – as “two of the best businesses they had”.

“We are owned by private equity so, at some point, everything will be for sale. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 9.26.34 amIt is unclear how Cirrus intends to use the newly-registered Australian Doctor Group name, which also includes online publication Six Minutes and Medical Observer, which went from weekly to a monthly publication earlier this year.

But speculation has mounted that management may be preparing to position the healthcare division for sale.

Cirrus’s products in its wealth division include Money Management and events business Financial Services Technology (FST).


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.