Matrix invests £4.5m in antiques trade 'bible'

The UK manager of venture capital trusts has taken a 'significant minority stake' in the buyout of Metropress, the London- and Chelmsford-based publisher of trade magazine The Antiques Trade Gazette.

Matrix Private Equity Partners, which focuses on small buyouts in the UK market, has acquired a minority stake in the management buyout of antiques trade publisher Metropress.

While the value of the transaction was not disclosed, Matrix is thought to have invested around £4.5 million (5.8 million; $7.9 million) in a total funding package worth £8.9 million, according to a source close to the situation. Debt was provided by HSBC.

Metropress was founded in 1971 specifically to publish The Antiques Trade Gazette, a newspaper aimed at professionals in the art and antiques trade. Since 1994 the publisher had been owned by the Daily Mail General Trust, and has expanded into online media and begun running online live auctions.

The business employs 53 staff and turns over £6 million per year.

Bob Fairchild will join the Metropress board as non-executive chairman to the management. Fairchild was previously managing director of a joint Matrix and 3i investment, Landmark Information Group, which was sold to the Daily Mail General Trust.

“Whilst we recognise that advertising spend may in the short term be susceptible to the prevailing economic environment, the transaction is modestly geared and we have built in protection to ensure that the VCTs receive their yield,” said Matrix partner Jonathan Gregory in a statement.

Funding for the deal came from Matrix’s five venture capital trusts, which between them provide the firm with £130 million in funds under management. Matrix typically backs buyouts of businesses valued at between £5 million and £20 million.