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Three become one, become two. Further thoughts on the UK media database sector

There were three. Then there was one. Now there are two.

Cision’s private-equity-fueled acquisition spree last year resulted in a radical redrawing of the UK media database map, with Cision, Vocus and Gorkana all becoming one. Three major UK media database providers coming under the same ownership, with plans to integrate them all.

That was the theory anyway, but then the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) stepped in to investigate, apparently of its own volition.

The CMA appeared to not be too concerned with competition levels in the media monitoring sector, in which all three companies operate as well, but instead pointed to reduced competition in the media database market.

The result was that Cision’s Chicago-based backer GTCR was forced to find a buyer for the combined UK Cision and Vocus operation, understood to be already well integrated, leaving it with the perceived jewel in the crown – Gorkana.

The buyer was revealed yesterday as Access Intelligence plc, which will integrate it with its AIMediaComms arm. Access Intelligence paid just £1.34m for the UK Cision/Vocus operation, though it raised a total of around £3m to fund the acquisition and integration. A bargain, perhaps, though in the UK the Cision/Vocus business was not a standalone unit, being reliant on its parent for technology. In my opinion, there were few buyers out there that could fill the gaps.

So what does this all mean? Though I have already blogged that the competition issues were not that serious, this latest move has to be good for the media database market in that it provides a little more choice. The 1,500-plus individual Cision and Vocus customers in the UK may have their own feelings about it all. One thing is for sure there will be a hell of a lot of integration going on over the coming months.

Meanwhile, here at DWPub it’s business as usual.

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