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Legal Publisher's IPO Could Be 'Doozy'

Legal publishing company Dolan Media, publisher of legal and business newspapers in 18 states as well as the national legal newspaper Lawyers USA, is preparing for an initial public offering as early as this week, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says the IPO by the Minnesota-based company is shaping up to be a doozy. The company is expected to raise as much as $187 million for 42 percent of its stock, which would be Minnesota's largest IPO since 2001 and one of the 10 largest ever there.

The company was founded in 1992 by James P. Dolan, a one-time reporter who became a media executive and then an investment banker. He built the company by acquiring  existing legal, business and commercial publications, improving them and using them as platforms to launch other products and services. In 2004, it acquired the entire Lawyers Weekly chain of newspapers and Web sites. Today, Dolan has newspapers in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin. It also owns ancillary businesses, among them American Processing Company, a service that helps attorneys process foreclosures.

(Full disclosure: I worked for Dolan in 1998 and 1999 as acting VP and publisher of its Idaho Business Review. Earlier, I worked with Lawyers Weekly, before its acquisition by Dolan, as editor of its Massachusetts paper and of Lawyers Weekly USA.)

Dolan's IPO is being led by Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, who plan to sell more than 12 million shares at up to $15.50 each. Minneapolis-based investment bankers Piper Jaffray and Craig-Hallum Capital Group are also involved in the deal. The Star-Tribune reports that Dolan's SEC filing describes it as the largest publisher of information targeted at the legal, financial and real estate markets in each of its 20 key markets in 15 states.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 1, 2007 at 03:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

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