Veronis exits Centaur through IPO

The private equity arm of US-based investment bank Veronis Suhler Stevenson has sold its stake in Centaur Communications, which has joined the London Stock Exchange in a £145m IPO.

Centaur Communications, the business communication company, has floated on the London Stock Exchange, thereby providing an exit for Veronis Suhler Stevenson’s VS&A Communications II fund.

The transaction took the form of an “accelerated IPO”, which saw Centaur acquired by a shell company underwritten by broker Numis Securities and then immediately floated on London’s Alternative Investment Market.

VS&A acquired a 36 percent stake in Centaur in 1998 in a restructuring triggered by US private equity firm Warburg Pincus, which sold the 28 percent stake it held in the company for 11 years. Other major investors in Centaur included Griffin Land and Nurseries and Graham Sherren, the firm’s founder and chairman. Sherren is continuing to serve as chairman and chief executive officer following the IPO.

Centaur publishes a range of professional magazines and stages exhibitions and conferences for the marketing, financial services, creative services, legal services, new media, construction and engineering sectors. Its brands include The Lawyer, Marketing Week and Money Marketing.       

“Centaur’s management has done a great job growing the business organically through new product introductions and successful brand extensions across such critical platforms as exhibitions, conferences and online services,” said Marco Sodi, managing partner and head of Veronis Suhler Stevenson International.

Veronis Suhler Stevenson is an independent merchant bank focused on the media, communications and information industries. Established in 1981, it is currently investing its $1 billion VS&A Communications Partners III fund, which was closed in 1999.