UBM (formerly United Business Media) is an information clearinghouse. The firm focuses on two main activities: distributing news from companies and organizations through global news service PR Newswire, and producing industry events, publications, and databases for business-to-business communities. Its 15 or so businesses include UBM Conferences, which operates globally across all UBM's divisions to produce more than 80 industry events, and the Everything Channel, a provider of IT-focused events, media, and sales and marketing services. Its US-based UBM TechWeb covers technology markets, while UBM Global Trade targets global trade and transportation. UBM was founded in 1918 as United Newspapers Limited.
In 2011 the company officially changed its name from United Business Media Limited to UBM plc, which it was already doing business as. It also made the change to reflect how it's reshaping its business, placing more emphasis on digital media services and events in order to reduce its dependence on print. In particular, it sees event production activities as gaining value with the decline of face-to-face communication in the digital age. In 2010 UBM produced some 300 events in more than 20 countries that generated more than 50% of its profits.
A key acquisition in the events arena was the 2010 purchase of Canon Communications, now UBM Canon, for some $287 million. The deal represents the company's largest acquisition under CEO David Levin, who was hired in 2005. Canon provides trade shows and related media products to the global medical device design industry and advanced manufacturing markets. UBM made the purchase in order to expand into the attractive growth market of medical devices events.
After forming UBM Canon, the company in 2010 created UBM Electronics. The new company combines UBM's existing EE Times Group portfolio with the electronics related products it acquired along with Canon Communications. (Shortly before UBM acquired Canon, Canon itself had in 2010 acquired several electronics-related titles from Reed Business Information.) UBM Electronics brands include EE Times, EDN, Design News, Test & Measurement World, TechOnline, Designlines, and Embedded.com.
The Canon purchase is among many that the acquisitive company has made recently (UBM has completed some 80 deals over the past five years). Other 2010 acquisitions include ad agency Game Advertising Online (GAO), which UBM bought for some $1 million up front and a payment of up to an additional $7 million based on performance. It purchased GAO to expand its existing game developer group portfolio within UBM TechWeb. Also in 2010 it acquired SharedVue, a Web-based marketing business, and E Commerce Expo, the producer of an exhibition and conference dedicated to e-commerce and online retailing.
Internationally, UBM has operations in more than 30 countries and is focusing on emerging markets and areas such as China, India, and Latin America, for growth. In 2010 the company acquired 70% of Sign China, a growing Chinese sign exhibition, for about $10 million, with a further performance-related consideration of up to nearly $4 million.
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