UBM makes big push

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Company pulls trigger on four deals in aggressive bid to reshape business model After sitting on the sidelines for the first half of the year, United Business Media CEO David Levin has moved quickly on his plan to reshape UBM by investing in face-to-face events and data businesses while shuttering print products. Since the start of the third quarter, UBM has announced four deals: ??On July 3, it purchased the remaining 48% of the holding company of RISI from its joint venture partner, Pegasus Partners II, for $14.3 million. RISI is a media and information company that serves the paper and forest products industry. ??On the same day, UBM acquired Iasist, from Inflexion Private Equity, for $10.1 million. UBM bought Iasist, which provides benchmarking data and software to health service providers, on behalf of its CMPMedica subsidiary. ??In late July, UBM acquired Fuel Team (on behalf of its PR Newswire subsidiary) for $2.5 million. Fuel Team hosts microsites for communications professionals working at businesses and not-for-profit organizations. ??In late August, UBM acquired a 70% interest in the China International Optoelectronic Expo, the world's largest optoelectronics event, from Business Media China, for $5 million. UBM shuttered 15 print titles and eliminated 350 jobs in the first half of the year, and it has stated that in light of industrywide trends, it likely will close other print properties in its portfolio, which now counts 120 magazines. “Our strategy is unchanged: We like to buy exhibits, data, online, and China, Brazil and India,” said Levin, who has since taking the helm of UBM in 2005 made 65 acquisitions for a combined $1.2 billion. He also has sold more than $1.3 billion in assets. Asked about the recent dealmaking, Levin said: “Expectations have changed and the stock market is feeling very buoyant; and, out there in the real economy, there's significant pressure for people who actually want to sell.” Richard Mead, managing director of media investment bank Jordan, Edmiston Group, said Levin is following a similar M&A model as that of Thomson Reuters, combining large acquisitions, bolt-on deals and divestures of noncore assets. “He hasn't rushed into the market and has been very disciplined,” Mead said. “He values the underlying communities of the brands he is buying and wants to connect those brands to other b-to-b products in the UBM portfolio.” Levin has pursued an aggressive M&A strategy despite the ongoing distress in advertising markets and a still-slumping economy. In the first half, UBM's revenue declined to $696 million, from $730 million in the year-earlier period. M
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