Cobert joins forces with VSS for investment opportunities

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Private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson and b-to-b media veteran Bill Cobert have entered into a venture to acquire trade events, conferences, magazines and e-media businesses.

The move is a bit of dejà vu for Cobert, who was CEO of Canon Communications when Canon was a portfolio company of VSS from 1996 until Canon's sale to Apprise Media in 2005. Cobert left Canon in 2006 and soon after founded EBITDA Media, a holding company for b-to-b media investments.

"I'm going to look for companies that interest both me and VSS, with the idea that I might play a management role with companies we acquire," said Cobert, who will continue as CEO of Los Angeles-based EBITDA Media.

Hal Greenberg, a managing director at VSS, said: "Bill has a keen eye for properties and both operational and management experience. We could see him as a chairman or a CEO, but certainly an active role from a board perspective."

Cobert hopes to attract "green" properties to VSS, whose portfolio investments include Access Intelligence and TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications, among many others.

EBITDA Media currently operates Green Media Enterprises, a strategic platform for the green marketplace. In 2008, the company will launch Green West and Green East exhibitions and seminars in Los Angeles and New York, respectively.

"The field is an indication of the characteristics we'll be looking for in other properties," Cobert said. "It's a young industry that's innovative and fast-paced, with a need for information and educational content. It's also a global business, as opposed to being localized."

Cobert is the latest in a string of veteran media executives who have affiliated with private equity firms focused on b-to-b media.

In February, Jim Casella, a former vice chairman of Reed Business Information, teamed up with Austin Ventures to form Case Interactive Media, and in April former Penton Media CEO David Nussbaum joined with ABRY Partners to launch Sundance Business Enterprises.

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