UBM PR Newswire sale to free up £253m investment in its events business

Global B2B events organiser UBM has agreed to sell its press release distribution arm PR Newswire to US-based rival Cision for £554.7m, in a move, the company says, that will allow it to focus on its events business.

UBM said it intended to use £253m from the sale to bolster its events business through a series of bolt-on acquisitions.

A company statement said: “UBM sees a good pipeline of opportunities.”

UBM also plans to return £245m to shareholders as a special dividend following the sale and said it hoped to complete the deal by the end of first quarter of next year, subject to regulatory approval.

PR Newswire, formed in 1954, distributes press releases to more than 30,000 customers, including large multinationals, PR agencies, small businesses and government agencies.

The deal is said to be structured as £534m in cash and £20m of preferred equity.

UBM chief executive Tim Cobbold said the announcement represented “a significant step in the execution of UBM’s Events First strategy, the objective of which is to become the world’s leading focused business-to-business events business”. He added that he was confident the transaction realised “excellent value for our shareholders”.

Chicago-based media intelligence firm Cision, owned by GTCR private equity firm, said it hoped to grow the PR Newswire business and GTCR managing director Mark Anderson described the acquisition as “exciting” and one that the company had been pursuing for some time.

City analysts said the sale price represented good value for shareholders at a 11.2 times multiple of PR Newswire’s 2014 adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).

Following the acquisition of Advanstar in 2014, the disposal of PR Newswire further increases UBM’s focus on the high growth and high margin events sector, with more than 80% of UBM’s continuing revenues generated in events.

Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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