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Questex continues rapid expansion with InfoTrends deal

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Questex Media Group’s acquisition of InfoTrends is a crucial step in the company’s efforts to provide its customers with a full line of b-to-b marketing services. InfoTrends, a leading strategic consulting firm in the digital imaging industry, provides market research, analysis and forecasts.

Financial terms of the deal, which was announced last week, were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close this week.

InfoTrends was a founding partner of Questex Media’s On Demand Digital Printing & Publishing Conference & Expo and continues to produce content for the annual event.

The deal to acquire InfoTrends builds on Questex Media’s portfolio of 23 trade publications, including America’s Network and Telecom China, 25 conferences and trade shows, several online media brands as well as a host of databases.

The InfoTrends acquisition is critical for two reasons: It will diversify Questex Media’s revenue stream into market research and enable the company to integrate InfoTrends’ toolkit into its vertical markets, which include technology, travel and beauty. Already in the pipeline is an InfoTrends event for China scheduled for 2007.

“The goal is to be an integrated marketing company,” said Kerry Gumas, president-CEO of Questex. “Market research and data are what b-to-b marketers are looking for.”

Questex was formed in June 2005 when Gumas, former VP-general manager of Advanstar’s Information Technology & Communications Group, backed by private equity firm Audax Group, acquired several divisions from Advanstar. The deal, worth $185 million, included the information technology & communications, travel & hospitality, beauty, home entertainment, abilities and portfolios groups.

Gumas said trade shows and events are a central component of the company’s marketing strategy. “I look to the American Business Media and Forrester report earlier this year showing that events are high on the mark for both branding and lead generation,” he said.

In July, Questex announced the acquisition of three trade shows from Show Management: International Esthetics, Cosmetics & Spa Conference Las Vegas and Orlando, and the Las Vegas Hair & Nail Conference.

Gumas said Questex is also in the hunt for print properties to “bolt on” to existing magazines and trade shows. He added that Questex wants to break into other vertical markets, such as finance and health care, on a selective basis.

“It looks like [Questex] is trying to out-Advanstar Advanstar,” said Baran Rosen, president of media investment bank Whitestone Communications, referring to Questex’ aggressive acquisition strategy.

Rosen said the InfoTrends deal reflects the mood among b-to-b media executives. “A lot of the strategic companies don’t think b-to-b magazines are a 50-year business anymore,” he said. “It’s not in their long-term thinking.”

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