Centaur, CI Group Told To Hurry Up With Sell-Off Talks

The City’s takeover panel is setting B2B media investment team Critical Information a December 7 deadline to acquire New Media Age and The Lawyer publisher Centaur Media.

The four-man outfit said on October 20 it had approached Centaur and may bid for the publisher. Now the panel says it must announce its intentions by 5pm on deadline day.

Centaur has had a horrible 2009. Profit fell from £14.5 million to just £1.7 million in the 12 months to June and a third was wiped off revenue.

That sounds like an opportunity for a buy. But Centaur stock, which, in February, hit a low of 16.75, is now trading much higher, about 54.00.

Critical Information counts David Smith and Tony Foye as executive directors, with former Endemol creative chief Peter Bazalgette (pictured) and Jon Conibear as non-execs and some other media investors on-hand.

If they acquire Centaur, staff can expect cutbacks and to merge with another publisher. Critical’s website says its strategy is to buy publishers that “have the potential for operational improvement and would benefit from consolidation”…

Businesses it buys “will benefit from greater economies of scale, more focused product evaluation and management experienced in acquiring and integrating media businesses”.