UBM May Acquire Advanstar

by Harry Sheff

AdvanstarUBM, the London-based media company, confirmed last week that it is in talks to acquire Advanstar, the Calif.-based trade show company that owns Magic and Project.

A report by Reuters last week said that the privately held Advanstar could sell for $900 million. Reuters added that Advanstar, which is controlled by the hedge fund Anchorage Capital Group and two private equity firms, Ares Management LP and Veronis Suhler Stevenson, makes about $95 million in EBITDA.

Penton, a New York-based events and media company, is also reportedly bidding for Advanstar.

UBM may be best known in the U.S. for its PR Newswire division, a press release and corporate communications service. It also has a number of business-to-business publications like Information Week. Its largest division is events-based—UBM bills itself as “the world’s second largest ‘pure play’ event organizer.”

UBM traces its roots back to 1918, when it called itself United Newspapers Limited. It became United News and Media in 1995. As its mandate evolved, it changed its name to United Business Media in 2000. it officially became UBM in 2011.

Some analysts are saying that UBM may be close to selling PR Newswire, the funds from which could help an acquisition of Advanstar. UBM acquired PR Newswire in 1982.

Advanstar operates 54 trade shows, including the shows that make up the Magic Marketplace in Las Vegas—the largest fashion events in the U.S. Its New York events include Fashion Coterie and Project NYC. Advanstar publishes 30 business-to-business magazines, including Motor Age and a number of healthcare, dental, pharmaceutical and veterinary publications.