UBM looks to make 'careful' acquisitions

United Business Media is looking to take advantage of the credit crunch by buying up a number of small companies at a discounted price in the coming months.

The media group, which owns B2B publisher CMP Information and medical magazines division CMP Medica, said in a trading update this morning that it was “strongly positioned” to make a string of acquisitions.

In a conference call, UBM deputy chief executive Nigel Wilson told investors the company hoped to announce “one or two” purchases before the end of July.

“We’re just being very careful that we’re not buying lemons. People have been trying to sell their lemons to us,” he said.

“We still think the credit crunch has a bit of a way to go. We’re not rushing into buying assets if we think they’ll be cheaper in six months.”

In the trading update, UBM said its businesses remained “generally resilient”, and said it expected its results for the first half of 2008 to be “modestly ahead of market expectations”.

It singled out Information Week, Pulse and Farmers’ Guardian as titles that had “performed well” so far this year. But it acknowledged that in the current uncertain climate, there was likely to be an overall slowdown in advertising spend in the coming year.

The group has completed the restructuring of its medical publishing division, CMP Medica, which includes titles such as The Practitioner and Pulse. UBM said this part of the business had seen “strong growth” in its digital revenues, and had been “strengthened” by the restructuring.

Last week, UBM announced it had pulled out of merger talks with rival B2B group Informa, which publishes titles including maritime daily Lloyd’s List.

Since then, a consortium of private equity firms has come forward with a takeover approach for Informa, which has a market value of about £1.8bn.

UBM is currently in the process of moving its tax residency from the UK to Ireland. The group will report its half-year results on 29 July.

At 11.30am today, shares in UBM were down 4.7 per cent to 552.5p.

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