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Square One Law advise on major Future PLC acquisition and investment deal

A substantial publishing investment in the country pursuits market has been made by Future PLC (Future) after it acquired magazine titles and assets managed and owned by Blaze Publishing Limited (Blaze).

Square One Law provided corporate and employment advice to Blaze on the transaction which saw the two media companies announce a seven-figure purchase and investment deal.

Future has acquired a range of Blaze’s media and events brands and will support the UK Game Fair which aims to place field sports back at the heart of rural events.

Blaze’s managing director, Wes Stanton, said: “It was great to work with the Square One Law team who were responsive, practical and provided sound commercial advice throughout the transaction process.”

The established shooting magazine portfolio of Gun Trade News, Sporting Rifle, Airgun Shooter, Clay Shooting, iShoot and Bow International transfers to Future, alongside Blaze’s successful music-making titles and successful London exhibitions.

Future, an international publishing and media group listed on the London Stock Exchange, is a leading digital business that boasts an international portfolio of over 150 magazines, apps, websites and events covering tech, games, film, music, photography and creative. It reaches over 72 million users globally every month and has offices in London, San Francisco, New York, Sydney and Bath, where the company began 30 years ago. It employs over 500 staff, the majority of whom are UK-based.

The shooting and countryside arenas are new to Future and the addition of the specialist shooting titles further strengthens its portfolio and helps continue its vision to become the No.1 global content provider across several markets by 2018. The music events help to strengthen Future’s increased push into the event and exhibition market.

Wes Stanton is to continue at the helm of the titles under the Future banner for a year to ensure a smooth transition. He said:

“I’m thrilled to announce this deal, which will allow the titles and events I’ve built up under the Blaze banner to continue to grow.”

“We have some really talented people in the magazine team who have grown up with us over the years, but there’s a limit to what an owner-managed company can achieve in terms of growth. Future is the right company to take on stewardship of these brands – its own portfolio is largely male-focused and it is a leader in digital innovation: it’s a perfect fit for the shooting magazines.”

“I am particularly excited about the investment Future is making alongside us in the UK Game Fair. Not only is there substantial financial support, we have unprecedented access to their audience of over 20 million social media followers per month, their 72 million website users and their 250,000 digital subscribers. In terms of practical support, Future has a substantial events team – with my team’s market knowledge and Future’s clear advantages in terms of size, we are really excited about the UK Game Fair fulfilling its promise as the showcase event for country sports in the UK.”

James Bryce, partner and head of the Corporate team at Square One Law, commented:

“It was very rewarding to work closely with the Blaze team on delivering this transaction, which represents a fantastic opportunity for these titles and the UK game fair to develop and to reach a broader audience.

“By achieving such a good working relationship, the communication between both parties throughout the deal meant that we were able to reflect and respond with intelligent and creative solutions that were in line with our clients’ business model.

“On a personal level, working on this deal has been fascinating. The publishing sector is fast moving and it was a highly entrepreneurial move by Future to seize this opportunity.”

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