Is time ripe for strategic buyers?

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With no letup in the credit crunch, strategic players once again loom large in driving b-to-b media deals, said Mike Parker, who in September joined media investment bank AdMedia Partners as a managing director.

"Banks and financial institutions are tightening lending rates, which means the private equity companies will slow down their investment activities to a more measured pace and look for better values," said Parker, who was most recently senior VP at Nielsen Business Media's Marketing/Media Group.

That opens a window for strategic players, he said. "[Strategic players] will be able to compete much more with the money men because they can utilize their existing balance sheet and cash flow to do acquisitions on more favorable terms," Parker said.

"There's a gradual shift from a sellers' to a buyers' market," Parker added. "Buyers [can now] be more deliberate and more demanding in terms of expected returns from acquisitions."

Parker stressed that the "real energy" in b-to-b media deals will continue to be in the online space. "All b-to-b media companies have to pay high attention to their online component because readers are spending more time online," he said. —Matthew Schwartz

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