(Adds background on other deals, details of the process)
By Olivia Oran and Greg Roumeliotis
NEW YORK, April 1 (Reuters) - American Lawyer publisher ALM Media, which was once controlled by Wall Street dealmaker Bruce Wasserstein, is exploring a sale that could fetch more than $500 million, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
ALM Media, backed by private equity firm Apax Partners, has hired investment bank Jefferies to assist with efforts to sell the company, whose magazines are popular among U.S. lawyers and legal professionals, the sources said.
The first round of interest from potential bidders starts this week, another person familiar with the process said who added the buyer likely would be another private equity firm.
ALM, which sponsors conferences and owns legal and real estate publications and sites including the American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, New York Law Journal and Law.com, was sold to Apax in 2007 for $630 million through the private equity firm’s portfolio company, UK-based Incisive Media Ltd.
Apax later split up Incisive Media, keeping control of the ALM business while turning over the rest of the company to lenders including the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.
ALM Media, Apax and Jefferies declined to comment.
ALM’s owners are putting the company on the block following the sales of other legal news and analysis companies. Bloomberg LP bought BNA for about $1 billion in 2011 and Reed Elsevier’s LexisNexis snapped up Law360 in 2012 for an undisclosed sum.
Thomson Reuters , which competes with Reed and Bloomberg, bought Practical Law Company that provides expert services to legal professionals.
Still, ALM is heading to the auction block at time when the legal community is cutting costs and headcount.
ALM also had to trim from its ranks and last year cut about 35 positions or about 7 percent of its workforce, according to reports at the time.
ALM Media generates about $55 million in annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization and could fetch about 10 times that amount, said the sources, who requested anonymity because the matter is private.
ALM, which in January 2005 changed its name from American Lawyer Media, was formed by U.S. Equity Partners LP, a private equity fund sponsored by Wasserstein & Co. (Additional reporting by Jennifer Saba and Liana Bakers in New York; Editing by Soyoung Kim, Lisa Von Ahn and Lisa Shumaker)