Slight hiccup for b-to-b deals

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The slowdown in the economy is causing a "minor chill" in b-to-b media deals, said Baran Rosen, president of media investment bank Whitestone Communications. But the lull—a result of the housing crunch that is at the root of the current economic slowdown—is likely to be temporary, he said.

"By the second half of the year, I'm optimistic there'll be more freewheeling and dealing as opposed to the constricted environment we're now in," he said.

B-to-b media M&A activity will pick up in the second half, he said, as a result of recent cuts in interest rates by the Federal Reserve Board and the approval of the federal stimulus package, which is designed to pump more money into the economy.

Private equity players, whose activities have been somewhat tempered by tougher terms imposed by banks, will continue to be fairly active this year, Rosen said, pointing to Halyard Capital's recent acquisition of health care information provider HCPro Holdings. "That company was on the block for a while," he said.

Rosen said strategic b-to-b media companies have adequate financial resources to cut small and midlevel deals. "They can do deals less than $100 million without even thinking about bank financing," he said.

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