United Business Media will use recession to grow bigger

B2B publisher United Business Media has confirmed it is hoping to use the next phase of the credit crunch to buy up companies at a good price.

The group, which publishes titles including Building, Music Week and The Publican, said last summer that it was “strongly positioned” to make a series of acquisitions.

But it said at the time that it would not rush to buy businesses that might be cheaper six months later – and so far has made what it said was only a “minimal investment”.

“As we move beyond the refinancing phase of the credit crunch we expect to identify higher quality acquisition opportunities which provide better potential for creating shareholder value,” UBM said today.

“We will continue to manage our position to take advantage of these opportunities as they arise.”

In a trading update this afternoon to coincide with its annual general meeting in Dublin, UBM said it was keeping an eye on its portfolio of print magazines, which between them contribute less than 10 per cent to the group’s profits.

The company said it had closed titles where there was “no clear path to profitability”. Other options include reducing headcount or frequency, or turning free titles into paid-fors.

UBM said its business-to-business events were likely to deliver almost half of the group’s profits in 2009.

Although the company said revenue from people paying to attend events looked set to fall by between 25 and 35 per cent this year, it said most of the revenue from conferences came from exhibitors and sponsors, which remained strong.

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