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The Economist Group

A newsworthy story  

We meet Group Chief Executive Chris Stibbs, to find out how Barclays supported The Economist Group with acquisitions. 

Find out how we could support your business.

Chris Stibbs – Chief Final Officer, Economist Group
The Economist Group is on a mission to help people understand the world. It does this in a number of ways. It does it through The Economist Magazine, The Economist Intelligence Unit which is the B2B information arm on macro-economic issues around the world. We also have some assets in Washington as well, where we cover the workings of Congress. In a bank what we are looking for, primarily, is someone we can build a true partnership or relationship with.  

 

Steve Francis – Relationship Director
Barclays Corporate are the main bankers to The Economist Group, we’ve looked after the relationship for 40 or 50 years. We handle all of their day to day banking. We handle all of their foreign exchange transactions and have also supported them with their day to day working capital needs, and when they’ve made acquisitions, particularly in the United States.

 

We like to meet on a very regular basis but today it’s to talk about how we support them with their future acquisitions, which we know they’re looking to do over the next 12 to 24 months. 

 

Chris Stibbs – Chief Final Officer, Economist Group 
Barclays for me work as a true partner, they take the time to understand our business. As a result what I find is that when we want to do something that requires a capital investment, decisions are made from a position of knowledge as opposed to a position of ignorance. 

 

Steve Francis – Relationship Director
At the end of the day, if we are supporting them with loans and overdrafts, I have to make recommendations internally as to why we should be doing that and the best way to make that recommendation is to get out there in front of the client and understand the business as much as you can. 

 

Chris Stibbs – Chief Final Officer, Economist Group
What he does very well, I believe, he involves people from around the bank to come back to us and give us a range of options. What he also does very well though, is take that understanding of our business back to the bank and act as an ambassador for us, in the sense that, he’s prepared to say we are a business that Barclays should lend to and I think he can do that very well because he understands the business and he understands our requirements.

 

We could probably borrow from a number of sources; the real value to us is in knowing that the support will be there early in the process. For example, if we wanted to make an acquisition, I know full well that I can pursue an acquisition with confidence without having to worry whether there will be a finance arrangement in place to do that acquisition.

 

It gives us the confidence to be able to pursue the right thing for the business, in the knowledge that we know we have a partner who does understand the business, who is prepared to back us on the whole and will be there for us. It has huge value. 

The Economist Group’s long-term plan is to develop its Washington based businesses to become the leading provider of content to the US Congress. Part of this plan is the acquisition and integration of appropriate businesses.

At the height of the recession in 2009, the congressional information service, Congressional Quarterly, came onto the open market. Due to our longstanding relationship with The Economist Group we were invited to join the acquisition team. Responding quickly, Barclays provided a series of flexible financing options, introducing the concept of raising long term funds via investors in the US Private Placement market.

To provide certainty of funds, we also prepared a complete financial package and restructured their banking facilities.

Our trusted, long standing, working relationship with Barclays continues to go from strength to strength. During this time they have amassed a great deal of knowledge about our business, the way we operate and the scope of our ambitions.

Chris Stibbs

Group Chief Executive, The Economist Group

The Economist Group’s bid was successful and with a comprehensive funding strategy already in place, they were able to close the deal without delay.

Attaining Congressional Quarterly was a natural step for The Economist Group, and followed their acquisition of Capitol Advantage for $43m in 2008 – a deal that was wholly funded by Barclays.

Capitol Advantage together with Congressional Quarterly, are now a fundamental part of the CQ-Roll Call Group. The Economist is now a leading provider of information to the US Congress, thanks to its capital investment in Capitol Hill.

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