UBM maintains robust M&A strategy

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When UBM CEO David Levin spoke at DeSilva+Phillips' annual media bankers conference last year, he said that from 2005 through the end of 2010 UBM had closed 80 bolt-on acquisitions. Despite the ecoonomic downturn and the slow recovery, UBM has remained one of the most active players on the media M&A front. The U.K.-based publisher continues to expand its portfolio by acquiring digital properties and events. The company last year made four acquisitions and has continued its deal-making this year. In late February UBM acquired four Asia-based trade shows. The total value of the deals was $30.8 million in cash plus potential earn-outs of $7.0 million. The trade shows acquired are the Malaysian International Furniture Fair, the China International Exhibition & Symposium on Dental Equipment, Technology and Products (known as DenTech China), Renewable Energy India Expo and Airport Cities Exhibition & Conference. ¬†Earlier in February, UBM acquired the 4G World trade show. Last year's 4G World generated about $3.2 million in revenue. The event will be one of the largest trade shows in UBM TechWeb's events portfolio, which also includes Interop. In addition to this year's Chicago show Oct. 29-Nov. 1, UBM will debut 4G World Asia in Singapore in May, said Berge Ayvazian, conference chairman of 4G World. “It's a global platform, so we'll be adding other venues and locations,” he said. “We'll look to Europe and Latin America over time.” Ayvazian added that 4G World has synergies with Mobile Connect, which UBM TechWeb will introduce in June. “It's a place we're looking to collaborate on content,” he said. Also in February, UBM agreed to sell its U.K. agricultural and medical general practitioner businesses, which include the Farmers Guardian brands, to Briefing Media. The deal, expected to close this month, is valued at $15.8 million. The acquisition of 4G World picked up where UBM had left off in 2011. In November, UBM TechWeb acquired the Online Marketing Summit, a digital marketing event, from Online Marketing Connect. In August, UBM acquired International Business Events, which produces Ecobuild, a trade show focused on sustainable building products, in a deal valued at $51.0 million. “I would anticipate that UBM will continue with its strategy regardless of market conditions,” said Reed Phillips, managing partner at DeSilva+Phillips. “That doesn't mean they've got their heads stuck in the sand, because [the company] is a much more worldwide organization than most b-to-b players in the U.S. So when they do acquisitions, they can be doing them in China, India and South America, where the markets are still frothy, and don't necessarily have to do [deals in] markets that are challenged.”
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