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Industry awaits Advanstar move

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At press time, the Credit Suisse First Boston private equity fund that owns Advanstar Communications appeared poised to make an announcement about the fate of the b-to-b media company's auction.

Speculation about Advanstar was rampant in the b-to-b media world. Some observers believed that the process had resulted in a "broken auction," meaning that the CSFB fund, which originally bought the property for $900 million in 2000, was pulling the company off the market because no bidders offered a satisfactory price.

Other media investment bankers said the property would likely be sold to one of three private equity bidders: Blantyre Partners, Providence Equity Partners or Wasserstein & Co.

A spokesman for Advanstar refused to comment on the speculation.

In May, Advanstar announced it had sold its travel and some other properties to Questex Media Group for $185 million. The 9.3-times EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) that Advanstar received for those properties—plus the large multiples earned in other media deals this year—inspired CSFB to test the waters for the sale of the remainder of the company, whose biggest properties include the MAGIC trade shows and the former Medical Economics.

In the summer, Advanstar President-CEO Joseph Loggia confirmed that Advanstar was exploring its options.

"With the inefficiencies we've been able to take out of the business, with the outlook for our future pretty good, with a fairly robust M&A environment and with the fact that we're owned by a private equity company that buys and sells companies all the time, the timing seems right to see what our alternatives are," he said at the time.

If CSFB can complete the sale of Advanstar, it will be a signal to the broader b-to-b market that the mergers and acquisition boom of the past two years is still in full force, observers said. 

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