Daily Mail owner buys New Scientist for £70m

New Scientist, one of the world’s leading science magazines, has been bought by the publisher behind the Daily Mail in a £70m deal. 

DMGT, which owns news titles, events and data businesses, said on Wednesday that its media arm had acquired the magazine from a group of investors led by businessman Sir Bernard Gray.

The London-based title, which was founded in 1956, has a weekly circulation of roughly 120,000 copies with about half of readers in the UK and the rest in Australia and the US.

It derives about three-quarters of its revenue from subscriptions and is expected to generate operating profit of about £7m this year on sales exceeding £20m.

DMGT has in recent years reconfigured the mix of its business, offloading assets such as financial publisher Euromoney and education tech business Hobsons, while acquiring the i newspaper.

Lord Rothermere, DMGT chairman, said the group intended to support New Scientist’s “exciting plans to grow as the go-to publication for anyone interested in the scientific world around us”.

The group is betting it can expand the magazine’s online presence and its events arm, whose projects include the annual New Scientist Live festival.

The purchase “reflects our disciplined approach to acquisitions”, said chief executive Paul Zwillenberg, adding that it was a “natural step in our consumer strategy to improve the quality of our revenues through building up subscriptions and digital capabilities”.

New Scientist last changed hands in 2017, when it was sold by Relx, the events and academic publishing group that had owned the magazine since the 1970s.

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Like its peers, DMGT has struggled during the pandemic with advertising severely hit.

Revenues at its Metro free sheet, which in normal times would be picked up by commuters, dropped 40 per cent last year.

Overall circulation at DMGT fell 7 per cent, while advertising was down 30 per cent. Underlying pre-tax profit fell more than a third. That did not stop the company from raising its dividend 1 per cent to 24.1p. At the time, Zwillenberg attributed the decision to “our long-term perspective and our confidence in the future”.



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