Haarlem, Netherlands--VNU Communications Inc., the Anglo-Dutch publishing giant, on Friday said its VNU Business Media Europe division has reached an agreement to acquire the European operations of trade show organizer Imark Communications for $26.4 million. Together with VNU's Online Information, one of the leading electronic publishers in Europe, the Imark acquisition gives VNU a significant stake in the U.K. technology exhibition and conference sector. The acquisition fits in with VNU's strategy to provide industry segments with the entire media food chain, including print, online and face-to-face. Imark produces b-to-b technology exhibitions and seminars for specific industries such as accounting and finance and human resource management. All of the events are held in the U.K. Imark, which had revenue of $11 million in 2000, also produces exhibitions and conferences for the technology retail sector. Brian Simons, a partner at New York-based EXM L.L.C., an exhibit management company, said the slackening economy has left many of the small trade show players vulnerable to big players such as VNU. In the current climate, "large companies have to take advantage of events and tie them back together with other parts of the business," such as print, he said. "It's a value-added for [VNU's] advertisers." The acquisition includes popular trade shows Softworld, ProjectWorld, Project Leadership Conference and Comms Dealer Expo. VNU will seek to leverage the trade shows with its print and online publications devoted to technology. VNU Business Media Europe is one of the biggest publishers in Europe, with operations in the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and Germany.