John Brown Citrus managers stage buyout

The management team at the customer magazine group John Brown Citrus Publishing has staged a successful buyout of the company following the decision of its founder to sell his stake.

The deal, led by the chief executive, Andrew Hirsch, sees John Brown sell his remaining stake and exit the company. The deal is reported to have valued the company at £33 million, and was funded by the private equity company Bridgepoint Capital.

JBCP is the UK's biggest customer publisher, producing titles for companies including Sky, Waitrose, Orange and Virgin, with reported billings of £51 million for the year to 31 March 2004.

Sky the Magazine has the biggest circulation in the UK, with an ABC figure of 6,600,677 for the period of January to June 2004.

The company was set up by Brown in 1987, with backing from Richard Branson's Virgin empire. Its first magazines were Viz and Virgin Atlantic's Hot Air.

Its consumer magazine business, which grew to include Fortean Times, was sold to James Brown's I Feel Good and BBC Magazines in 2001.

The customer magazine business was then merged with Citrus Publishing in 2003, creating the UK's biggest contract magazine group, ahead of Redwood.

The money from Bridgepoint is expected to help the business expand in the US and Europe. Hirsch, who took over as the chief executive in London in 2001, was previously responsible for building the company's US division in New York.

No-one at JBCP was available to comment as Campaign went to press.