Economy

Bauer buys ACP magazines: Five things you didn’t know about the secretive Bauer family

Engel Schmidl /

The heavily indebted Nine Entertainment group has sold Australian Consolidated Press to German media group Bauer for a reported $500 million.

The private company will take control of ACP, the publishing house behind many of the nation’s most popular magazines including Australian Women’s Weekly, Cleo and TV Week and a string of other titles.

There is limited information available about Bauer, which publishes 400 magazines in 15 countries including Grazia, That’s Life, Heat, FHM and Zoo in Britain and First for Women, Soaps in Depth and Woman’s World in the United States.

The company has about 8,700 employees and annual sales of €2 billion ($2.5bn). Meet the family behind this global publishing powerhouse:

1. It’s a matriarchy

Yvonee Bauer heads up Bauer and is the fifth generation of her family to do so.

The 35-year-old heiress was made publisher in 2010 when her 72-year-old father Heinz Bauer transferred 85% of the family-run business to her.

Heinz’s other three daughters Mirja, Nicola and Saskia each hold a 5% limited partnership share in the company and Heinz remains a general partner.

“ACP fits our strategy of developing the Bauer Media Group globally. We believe in print, and ACP’s strong brands in Australia and New Zealand are perfect platforms to expand into digital areas,” Yvonne Bauer said in a statement announcing the deal with Nine.

2. There’s a long family history in publishing

The group was founded in 1875 when lithographer Ludolph Bauer founded a printing house for business cards in the Rothenburgsort district of Hamburg.

Bauer’s son Heinrich, a trained printer like his father, became part-owner in 1903 and entered the publishing business as a pioneer in Germany with an advertising paper Rothenburgsorter Zeitung.

The family business survived both World Wars including a halt in production due to paper rationing and a bombing.

It was not until Heinz Heinrich was at the helm in the 1950s that the business turned international, acquiring new magazines and expanding into the US market in the early 1980s.

3. The family puts its money where its mouth is

Bauer has always put its money where its mouth is with a proven track record of investing in its products.

The family take risks but are also not afraid to cut publications when they are not performing.

Every magazine in the UK has to be profitable, a rule rivals don’t necessarily follow, and Bauer has reduced the circulation-boosting but profit-sapping practice of bundling magazines into a multipack.

4. They are heavily involved

While the family keeps a low profile, they are renowned for attention to detail that takes the form of marathon boardroom question-and-answer sessions.

In an interview with The Guardian, chief executive Paul Keenan said, “They are here when they need to be.”

5. Their wealth has taken a recent tumble

Forbes estimates the Bauer family is worth $2 billion and ranks the family at 634th on its list of billionaires and at number 40 in Germany.

However Bauer reported a double-digit fall in pre-tax profits to £57m last year and a decline in revenue, down 7.2% year-on-year from £246m to £228m, of that revenue 93% is derived from the UK.

Luckily there was enough spare change to rustle up the $500 million for ACP.

 

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