PENTON GRABS TOEHOLD ON THE INTERNET: $247 MIL MECKLERMEDIA PURCHASE ALSO PROPELS TRADE SHOW PRESENCE

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Trade publisher Penton Media will use its $247 million acquisition of Mecklermedia to become the fifth-largest operator of trade shows and to break into the Internet medium.

Mecklermedia, a longtime feisty, independent publisher and operator of trade shows, announced plans to sell its business to Penton at last week's Internet World Conference in New York. Mecklermedia owns and operates that twice-yearly conference.

As part of the agreement, Penton and Mecklermedia founder Alan Meckler will jointly own a network of Web sites under the name Internet.com (www.internet.com), which is now part of Mecklermedia.

EXPANSION GOAL

Since taking Penton public last August, CEO Thomas L. Kemp has said one of his main goals is to significantly expand the company's offerings of conferences and trade shows.

"This is obviously a very significant event for our company," he said.

The acquisition, pending regulatory approval, will elevate Penton into the top ranks of trade show operators, behind behemoths Miller Freeman, Reed Elsevier, Softbank and Advanstar.

Nearly 70% of Mecklermedia's $60.8 million in revenue for the 12 months ended June 30 came from trade shows held in 29 countries. In 1998 alone, Mecklermedia launched or acquired 10 new events.

Mr. Meckler, chairman-CEO of Mecklermedia, will retain an 80.1% stake in Internet.com; Penton will own the rest. Mr. Meckler will take the title of chairman-CEO at Internet.com and gets a three-year consultant contract with Penton Media.

"The secret of Mecklermedia has been the integration of the No. 1 trade show, newspaper and Web site in the Internet industry," Mr. Meckler asserted.

FIRST INTERNET FORAY

Penton provides business information through publications and electronic products to many industries, including information technology, engineering, electronics, management, manufacturing, mechanical systems and construction, but this is the company's first foray into the Internet arena.

Other Mecklermedia properties include the Ispcon trade shows and conferences; Internet World, a weekly magazine; Boardwatch, a monthly; and Isdex, an index of the leading Internet stocks (www.isdex.com).

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