Getting Future ready for the next step

Purchasing Barcroft Studios for a global platform for specialist media

Future plc is a FTSE 250 media enterprise and the parent company of numerous successful online sites, events and magazines. Many of its online outlets are targeted at tech, gaming and entertainment, music, creative and photography and television.

Future is embracing the media shift to digital. The importance of video in that context is clear –the enhanced shareability of video helps drive brand awareness, site traffic and revenue. YouTube in particular is now both an important marketing channel for media brands as well as a revenue generator.

Future plc is going places. Its ambitious growth strategy is driving both an increase in organic revenues and a series of media brand acquisitions. Its portfolio includes many well-known magazine and online titles, including Tech Radar and Games Radar.

Future knew that across all of its brands, dedicated video resource would be an important part of its continued success.

Embracing the shift to digital

Future wanted to augment its in-house video capabilities across its brands and have the ability to offer video production as a service to other businesses. It wanted to bring an established production studio on board to help it achieve its ambition.

Step forward Barcroft Studios.

Founded by Sam Barcroft, this previously Channel 4-backed production company has created content for the likes of the BBC, Netflix, Channel 4 and a host of other media brands, as well as offering services to corporate marketing and communications teams. It runs a YouTube channel with over 7 million subscribers and creates its own editorial content aimed at young people looking for real-life stories.

Barcroft seemed like the perfect fit for Future – as long as we could make the deal work for both companies.

The team behind the acquisition

Corporate partner Mark Millar led the Foot Anstey team advising on the deal, with support from Chris Cook and Arron Jolliffe. We worked closely with Future’s Head of Legal, Sarah Hill and other senior stakeholders, as well as our counterparts at Osborne Clarke acting for the sellers, to structure the deal in a way which would work for Future and for Barcroft Studios.

Making the deal work for all

The Solution

The deal had to be completed to a very tight timescale, so negotiations needed to be as succinct as possible whilst still incorporating all the necessary due diligence when purchasing a company of this size and making sure the cost was within Future’s acceptable range. At the same time, the deal needed to represent good value for Barcroft Studios and to safeguard the future involvement of its founder Sam Barcroft following the acquisition.

Working collaboratively with the in-house legal team at Future, we negotiated a purchase price of £23.5 million consideration in cash and shares, which represented a good deal for both sides. We were able to push the deal through to exchange quickly following the green light, in time for it to be referenced in the company’s annual results announcement.

"It was great to work with Foot Anstey on implementing a key transaction within our acquisition strategy. Under what was a very tight timetable, the Foot Anstey team's pragmatism, commitment and drive to push matters forward was greatly appreciated, and we felt like their team was an extension of ours given the collaborative working relationship."

Sarah Hill, Future PLC

Broadening its offering

The Result

Future also recognised the importance of the deal as part of its efforts to broaden its offering. Future CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne remarked that “a core part of our business is to diversify as the media landscape changes, and we remain convinced that video is going to be an increasingly large part of media going forward.”

Corporate partner Mark Millar added, “These are exciting times for Future and it was great to be able to help the team achieve its strategic aim in an exceptionally busy time for them.”