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CBC News ·

The new owners of the Toronto Star have already more than recouped their investment in the newspaper chain, after the initial public offering of one of Torstar’s digital publishing subsidiaries values the company at almost $400 million.

Investment company NordStar Capital bought out Torstar last year for $60 million, but in addition to the iconic newspaper the company is named after, NordStar also got a slew of other under-the-radar assets.

One of them is a digital publishing company called VerticalScope. Founded in 1999, VerticalScope operates more than 1,200 websites on a wide variety of topics. The company maintains digital communities for fans of everything from cars and photography to parenting and outdoor activities such as archery, fishing and sailing. Across the entire chain of websites, they engage with a combined 100 million users every month.

The company had more than $60 million in revenue in its last fiscal year, according to regulatory filings.

VerticalScope has been controlled by Torstar since 2015, when the newspaper chain paid $200 million for majority control of the business. But VerticalScope closed its initial public offering on the TSX on Monday, raising $125 million by selling almost six million shares to the public at $22 apiece.

“Completing this IPO is an exciting milestone for VerticalScope,” said CEO Rob Laidlaw, who founded the company more than two decades ago. “With the proceeds raised, we are in a strong position to accelerate our accretive acquisitions while continuing to invest in our software platform.

Despite VerticalScope going public, NordStar still owns just shy of 40 per cent of the company, a stake worth about $180 million based on where the shares are trading, at about $22.33 apiece nearing midday on Monday.

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