United Business Media Plc. (UBM) is a niche media company with interests in business-to-business (B2B) publications, trade events and exhibitions, and news distribution. It owns businesses such as PR Newswire (news distribution) and CMP and Commonwealth Business Media, which target B2B players with events and publications.
The company ended 2006 with revenues of around £740 million with an operating profit of £137 million. Over the past 30 years, UBM has owned, bought and sold a wide range of media businesses, including broadcast television (Meridian, Anglia, HTV), market research (NOP), and newspapers (Express Newspapers).
David Levin, the 46-year-old chief executive of UBM was in the country recently and discussed the company’s India plans with Mint.
About United Business Media Plc.
We are a $3 billion (in) market capital(ization) publicly listed company. UBM is about convergence, and what we do is to bring the world’s buyers and sellers
together at events, (and through) online and print (media), and provide them with the information that they need to do business successfully. We build professional communities through 258 (trade) shows, 225 trade magazines and 300-400 websites catering to different niches.
Seeking alliance: Levin says UBM is looking at partnerships with industry associations in India, a strategy that’s worked for it in other markets.
Technology (magazines) accounts for 40% of our publication; business, pharmaceutical and medical journals form 25% and the rest is jewellery, forest products, chemicals and other niches. While publications form one-third of our business, the most revenues come from events, exhibitions and news distribution. UBM also has a number of Web-delivered TV stations in the technology space.
On PR Newswire’s debut in India
PR Newswire is the largest news-distribution company in North America. We have just opened an office in Mumbai. Public relations has become an important part of marketing and news distribution is central (to it). People in North America have realized the potential of PR Newswire. It’s a huge value addition because the ability to get your news sucked up on the search engine and on the Web transforms any company’s performance. We’ve invested in search engine optimization and companies who make use of that will be on top of the pile (of search results). In China, nearly every company listed on Nasdaq has signed for PR Newswire. In India, it’s fairly new and we’ve set very ambitious targets internally.
On plans for India
We acquired a company recently in India called Mediworld Publications, a publisher of medical titles. In India, we have two trade publications, Network Computing and CRN. In addition, we are looking at B2B shows (events) in a big way, through CMP India — a company that organizes exhibitions.
I am pleased to say that our India revenues for all businesses in 2007 crossed $10 million. We are the largest international events organizer in India. We launched our first major event in December 2006, a chemicals and pharmaceuticals show. Last year, we ran the same show alongside a technology show and a pharma machinery show. We expect 10-15 shows to run this year; we are looking to double our revenues for India in 2008.
We are looking at partnerships with industry associations here, a strategy that has worked for us in other markets.
On India’s exhibition and B2B events business versus China’s and world’s
While our business in India crossed $10 million, our business in China is more than $100 million. In that sense, India’s exhibition business is a long way behind.
The global exhibition business is (worth) well over $10 billion. In most countries, trade exhibitions drive growth and business. Almost in every growing domestic market, these are big drivers of growth. China built itself strong exhibition centres that have helped it drive growth across trade sectors. In India, the market is out of proportion to what it should be. India’s big challenge is the lack of infrastructure for exhibitions of a huge scale and the high rates as far as real estate is concerned.
On acquisitions in India
We’ve acquired 50 companies worldwide, for nearly $600 million. Typically, we are on the lookout for specialist niche companies, not on the public market.