MJBiz Acquired by Emerald Expositions for $120M

Note from MJBiz: Our company name is Anne Holland Ventures Inc. We are a woman-owned firm headquartered in the greater Denver area. We launched MJBiz in 2010 and bootstrapped it into one of America’s fastest growing media companies. Our big annual business convention for cannabis industry professionals is now one of the largest 100 trade shows in America. With support from TGG during due diligence, we sold MJBiz to Emerald Expositions, a publicly traded company (NYSE:EEX). The sale was written about in Bloomberg.

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You may have seen the news recently that our client, MJBiz (Anne Holland Ventures, Inc) was acquired by Emerald Expositions for $120 million! We spoke to them about how this deal came together and what’s next!

Congratulations on your deal with Emerald X, LLC! How did this deal come about and what made you decide to sell the business?

Thank you! MJBiz publishes exclusive business news for the cannabis industry as well as producing the industry’s largest professional event, MJBizCon, held in Las Vegas each fall. Our first show a decade ago had only 400 attendees but as the industry has become more mainstream, the show’s grown to tens of thousands of attendees and an exhibit hall as big as five football fields.

The pandemic hasn’t slowed down the industry’s growth at all, and now all sorts of industries from consumer packaged goods to agricultural equipment are considering moving into it.

We realized to achieve its full potential, the brand and show might do better within a larger conference company, particularly one with shows in a variety of industries. Over the years many people have approached us about selling, but when Emerald Expositions (NYSE:EEX) expressed interest we knew it was the right time. One of the reasons we chose them was because the fit was fantastic and they were excited about hiring every single one of our employees.

What do you attribute the success of this sale to?

We knew to be successful that we needed to pitch ourselves and complete a transaction on an accelerated schedule. Even though it was going to be good news for everyone, we didn’t want to risk distracting our staff or the marketplace with news of the transaction getting out before it was completed. As a business with heavy seasonality, we also knew we’d do best if the transaction was timed right for both sides.

That meant we put together the CIM (Confidential Information Memorandum) including solid financial forecasts in just five weeks. Then the time from our accepting the LOI to closing was less than two months! The only way we were able to succeed was by having a tight team who all went the extra mile to complete extensive due diligence in an incredibly short time period. That team included our brokers Grimes, McGovern & Associates, our legal team at Mallon Lonnquist Morris & Watrous and the TGG crew.

Because MJBiz was acquired by a public company, they are now re-auditing our books for the past two years. They’ve hired TGG, due to their familiarity with the books, to assist their auditors so the audits are done in time. It’s heavy lifting and we really appreciate TGG’s help with it.

When it comes to your accounting, before you started working with us, what problems were you experiencing?

We had problems typical of small companies coping with the stress of swift growth. We needed a strong, experienced financial department, but hiring and managing a complete team was a lot for a company with just 50 employees. Our specialty is business media and events, not financial operations. Also, our business is seasonal, so we didn’t need the same financial staffing hours year-round.

At last, we decided to keep core A/P and A/R functions in-house while outsourcing the rest of our needs. Our goal was to get the financial department leadership and reserve firepower we needed without hiring a ton of fulltime people who’d be wasted on the actual workload much of the year.

Since you’ve been working with us, what solutions have we provided?

If time machines were a thing, we’d hop right in to tell ourselves about you years ago! We had no idea how blissful it could be to have a well-functioning team of experts on tap as needed. Our in-house financial staff also gained useful experience and lowered stress by working alongside TGG. The relief was truly immediate.

TGG began by closing our books monthly and producing useful financial analysis reports that helped us understand our business better. Then they pitched in as needed for financial operations from the mundane to the complex.

Also, they took most of the financial due diligence and disclosures off our plates, including some intensive Q&A with financial people on the acquirer’s end. Our in-house finance staffers were not involved in the deal until the very last week. Now TGG is helping the acquirer with their re-audits of our past books.

Now that you’ve had this successful sale, what’s next?

Well, first we both took a good long nap for a few days. Now, we are happily helping the acquirer get their arms around the team and our products. We are emotionally, professionally and financially invested in seeing this merger work beautifully.

We’ve asked TGG to remain as the finance department at our parent company AHV for the next couple of years as we wind things up for our umbrella corporation.

To learn more about MJBiz, check out their website: https://mjbizdaily.com/

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