J2 Global Inc.’s publishing division Ziff Davis has reportedly submitted an opening bid of $90 million to $100 million for Gawker Media, which is putting itself up for sale after filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday.
Gawker Media of New York is aiming to sell itself after losing a $140 million invasion-of-privacy lawsuit for publishing a sex tape of former pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan. The company has yet to publicly announce its auction, but privately has received Ziff Davis’ bid, reports the New York Times.
Ziff Davis’ parent company, J2 Global, generates much of its revenue from e-fax services, as well as cloud-backup storage, web hosting, email marketing, and e-commerce products. In 2012, the company paid $167 million for online media business Ziff Davis, which publishes PC Magazine, IGN and AskMen.com.
J2 is well-known for buying dozens of smaller competitors, an acquisition strategy it credits with growing earnings last year to $333 million before interest, taxes, and amortization on $721 million in revenue. Last year alone, it acquired 24 companies, paying an average of between $12 million to $14 million. The company has funded its acquisition streak by issuing $599 million in bonds and convertible debt since 2012. It had $243 million in cash and cash equivalents, for the quarter ended March 31.
“Operationally, they run a very tight ship,” Gregory Burns, an analyst with Sidoti & Co. of New York said to the Business Journal in February. “They are hyperfocused on margins, profitability and cash flow.”
Gawker generated $48.7 million in revenue last, the jury in the Hulk Hogan lawsuit was told. The company turned an operating profit of $6.5 million on revenue of $44.3 million in 2014, according to another financial disclosure.
Bankruptcy and a sale could allow Gawker reduce and then payoff some of its lawsuit liabilities, said Jerrold Bregman, partner at Brutzkus Gubner.
“Any and all claims, regardless of when they arose, those claims will be dealt with in the bankruptcy process,” he said, adding that the acquiring company will be protected from future lawsuits for Gawker’s past conduct after the bankruptcy process is over.
Musing about expanding into another vertical in a February interview, J2 Global’s Chief Executive Hemi Zucker said that his company would only move into a new market if it thinks it can quickly show financial results.
“We never think about what’s sexy and what’s trendy: It’s all about the shareholders,” he said.
The company’s share price fell 3.70 percent, on Friday to close at $ 65.62 a share on the Nasdaq.
Technology reporter Garrett Reim can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @garrettreim on Twitter for the latest in L.A. tech news.