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IDG joins possible CMP suitors

Technology publisher IDG considers a bid for rival publisher CMP Media, which said last month it would look for a buyer or other strategic partner.

Technology publisher IDG is apparently considering a bid for rival CMP Media, which said last month that it would look for a buyer or other strategic partner.

The company joins the Dutch company VNU and competing tech publisher Ziff-Davis in the ranks of possible suitors for the Long Island, New York-based company.

According to an internal IDG memo, the company is reviewing its competitor's financial information with an eye toward a possible purchase or other "transaction" with CMP.

The two companies have signed a mutual nondisclosure agreement while IDG examines information provided by Lazard Freres, the investment banking house hired last month by CMP to help examine new "strategic options."

According to the memo, the companies have agreed to a temporary hiring freeze, during which neither will recruit or hire employees from the other. Both companies have agreed not to confirm or comment on any financial discussions going on between the two, the memo adds.

An IDG spokeswoman refused to confirm the authenticity of the memo and declined to comment on any ongoing discussions with CMP.

IDG publishes technology print magazines, books, and Web sites. Its titles include Computerworld, PC World, Network World, the popular "?For Dummies" series of how-to books, and the Industry Standard magazine and Web site.

Several other companies have been identified as possible bidders for CMP, which publishes print technology magazines such as Computer Reseller News, Electronic Engineering Times, and the TechWeb news site.

VNU corporation, an international publisher of business trade magazines, said last week that it may be interested in the company, but that it had not yet made a bid. VNU owns a long list of U.S. titles, including Billboard magazine, Adweek, and The Hollywood Reporter, but few technology-related publications.

Sources said that Ziff-Davis, CMP's chief U.S. rival, is also reviewing a possible bid, and has instituted a hiring freeze similar to IDG's.

Like other print technology publishers, CMP has had difficulties over the last several quarters as the Asian financial crisis and a more general slowdown in technology advertising has cut into its earnings growth.

Last month's announcement that management would entertain the possibility of a sale revitalized the company's stock, however. Share prices for the company immediately climbed from the low 20s to the low 30s, where they have hovered ever since.

At its current share price, CMP is valued at about $744 million.