With big deals done, focus turns to 'minnows'

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With many of the larger deals in b-to-b media now out of the way, the M&A focus will soon start to shift to the "minnows," said Hal Greenberg, managing director of private equity fund Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

"Now is the time to sell," said Greenberg, referring to the healthy appetite for smaller b-to-b media properties plus the still generous bank lending rates that have fueled one of the most active M&A markets in years.

Greenberg said events are currently the most attractive targets. "It's been one of the strongest-performing sectors for 10 years," he said. "Even during the downturn in '01, '02 and '03, it still performed well."

Trade shows that stem from a print product?or vice versa?also make for a "compelling package," he added.

Online pure plays, while not as attractive as Web sites that include print and/or trade show components, hold appeal, too, Greenberg said.

B-to-b media companies that rely solely on print will continue to struggle, he said.

"Future growth rates for pure print products will grow only at the rate of inflation," he said, "but online sites are growing at a much faster pace."

?Matthew Schwartz

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