UBM Eyes Acquisitions Despite Losses

06 March 2002

UK-headquartered business information and media group United Business Media may embark on a £400 million ($568.7m; €653.5) spending spree, despite falling from £1.83 billion profit in 2000 to a £568.2m loss (£541.2m before tax) last year.

Turnover from continuing businesses in 2001 – described by chief executive Lord Clive Hollick as "one of the toughest trading periods we have experienced" – slid from £1.05bn to £930.5m, while operating profits after interest halved from £195.7m to £96.8m.

At its American CMP Media division – publisher of Information Week – profits slumped 89% to £10.8m, on a 29% fall in turnover to £353.3m.

Nevertheless, UBM is reportedly on the lookout for acquisitions. Unsurprisingly, it has decided to steer clear of ad-dependent businesses – healthcare, market research and business services are high on its shopping list.

UBM's £400m warchest – three times the group's expenditure in 2001 – has been amassed from cash reserves and heightened borrowing.

Such funds mean there is little pressure to offload interests, not least its stake in British TV broadcaster Channel 5. Bertelsmann, parent of RTL Group (the majority owner of C5), has been trying to buy UBM's 35% stake for a knockdown price.

Hollick professed himself "delighted" with C5 after it posted increasing market and audience share [WAMN: 05-Mar-02], declaring that there are no plans to sell UBM's holding.

Data sourced from: United Business Media; MediaGuardian.co.uk; Financial Times; BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff