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Investment firm to buy Ziff-Davis Publishing for $780 million

Willis Stein & Partners, a private equity firm, says it will use the Ziff-Davis magazines to "launch new special interest magazines and create ancillary businesses."

Willis Stein & Partners, a private equity firm, today announced it will acquire technology trade publishing giant Ziff-Davis Publishing for $780 million.

Willis Stein will use the Ziff-Davis magazines to "launch new special interest magazines and create ancillary businesses," the company said in a press release.

The investment firm added that James D. Dunning Jr. will serve as chairman and chief executive of the new Ziff-Davis Holdings and chairman of Ziff-Davis Publishing. Dunning was formerly an executive vice president at Ziff Communications, the precursor to Ziff-Davis, from 1984 to 1986.

Mike Perlis will continue as president and chief executive of Ziff-Davis Publishing, Willis Stein said. Ziff-Davis Publishing's offices will remain in New York.

For Ziff-Davis, today's announcement marks the latest in a series of sell-offs of its numerous divisions. In July the company announced it was considering a sale of all or some of its businesses in hopes of boosting its stock price.

Since then, the company has sold its ZD Market Intelligence unit to marketing firm Harte-Hanks for $101 million in cash; its ZD Education unit, a business-to-business information technology learning organization, to a company to be formed by a unit of Wasserstein Perella Group for $172 million; and a 64 percent stake in its ZDTV cable channel to Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures.

Ziff-Davis closed down 1.19 at 17.06.