Brit Media Mammoths Mull Merger

10 June 2008

LONDON: Two of Britain's largest media and market intelligence publishers – Informa and United Business Media – are in merger negotiations. A marriage would create a £3 billion ($5.91bn; €3.76bn) business information titan that would qualify for inclusion in the FTSE 100 Index.

Both companies, however, insist they are at the outset of discussions: "There can be no certainty that any transaction will take place," stressed Informa.

While would concede only UBM that it "confirms discussions, which are at an early stage, are taking place ... regarding the commercial merits of an all-share merger".

Although the two companies' respective market capitalisation is almost equal (UBM £1.5bn; Informa 31.6bn), UBM is expected to be the senior partner: a privilege for which Informa is said to demand a premium for all shares acquired by UBM.

Moles within the two firms believe that Informa's chief executive Peter Rigby would become chairman of a merged entity, while his opposite number at UBM, David Levin, would serve as ceo.

Analysts welcomed the talks – not, of course, because they sniff the heady scent of megabucks in an otherwise sterile marketplace – but because of the symbiosis in the duo's joint focus on the UK business-to-business media market.

Some observers, however, wonder whether Lord Clive Hollick, (UBM's former ceo, now managing partner at the UK office of private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) will sit idly by as a potentially juicy deal slips through his fingers – especially as his specific brief at KKR is to evaluate media and financial assets.

These are the lovebirds' primary assets:


  • Owns business titles, including Building, Travel Trade Gazette, The Publican, Farmers Guardian, Property Week, Music Week and Daltons.
  • Owns CMP Asia and CMP Information, which run conferences and exhibitions with print and online media for the jewellery, leather, fashion, beauty, maritime, pharmaceutical ingredients and furniture industries.

  • Owns Lloyd's List, the shipping and insurance newspaper, and publishes academic journals, commercial data and business books
  • Is the world's largest publicly owned organiser of conferences and courses and runs more than 10,000 events annually
  • Paid £500 million last year for Datamonitor, the provider of online information.
An inked deal would follow the trend within the UK business information sector over the past several months. A similar pact  was struck in December when the magazine publishing unit of Emap was acquired by Guardian Media Group and Apax Partners private equity firm.

Data sourced from The Times (UK); additional content by WARC staff