Ziff-Davis Publishing sold for $780m

Willis Stein & Partners buys magazine arm of computer publishing company

Ziff-Davis, the parent company of ZDNet, Monday announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to sell Ziff-Davis Publishing for $780m (£484m) cash to Willis Stein & Partners, a private equity investment firm. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2000 and is subject to financing and other customary conditions, according to the companies.

Willis Stein & Partners has teamed with James D. Dunning, Jr., who will serve as chairman and CEO of the new Ziff-Davis Holdings and chairman of Ziff-Davis Publishing. Mike Perlis will continue as president and CEO of Ziff-Davis Publishing.

"We selected Willis Stein & Partners to be the new owner based on a number of factors, including their commitment and resources that will enable them to leverage Ziff-Davis Publishing's global brands and marketing platforms, and take advantage of the opportunity to continue to build and expand upon their leadership position," said Eric Hippeau, chairman and CEO of Ziff-Davis, in a prepared statement.

Following completion of the transaction, ZDNet will retain the right to use Ziff-Davis Publishing content online for a period of five years in return for a royalty. Ziff-Davis' Computer Shopper publication and its ownership interest in Red Herring are not included in the transaction.

Ziff-Davis announced in July that it had retained Morgan Stanley Dean Witter to explore the sale of all or part of the company. On 4 October, 1999, ZD sold its Market Intelligence business for $106m. Ziff-Davis. recently announced that ZD Education and its interest in ZDTV are expected to be sold before the end of the first quarter of 2000 for $172m and $204.8m, respectively.