United Business Media Acquires Commonwealth Business Media For $154M

United Business Media, the parent company of PRNewswire and CMP, announced today the $154 million purchase of New Jersey-based Commonwealth Business Media.

And, if you’re at all interested, you may never read a more corporate internal memo than this one — replete with “town hall-type” meetings and “brand platforms,” courtesy of CBM’s Alan Gass:


TO: All CBM Employees
FROM: Alan Glass
SUBJECT: Important Company News

I am very pleased today to announce that we have signed an agreement to be acquired by United Business Media. UBM (www.unitedbusinessmedia.com) is a significant public company headquartered in London, with about half its business in the United States including such important businesses as CMP Technology (http://www.cmp.com/) and PR Newswire (http://www.prnewswire.com/) The terms of this agreement are noted on the attached press release which is being issued simultaneous with this announcement.

I’m going to take a few minutes to take you through the history of the company and what led to this exciting event. All of us on the senior management team want you to be fully aware of what has happened and what will happen in the ensuing period of time.

I recognize that there have been quite a few rumors about a sale of the company over the past few months. It’s not easy to keep something like this quiet and it was probably obvious by the extended absences of the senior management team during this time period. I hope that you’ll appreciate that “the keeping of the secret” was to insure that a successful transaction would be completed. In addition, a process like this is a huge distraction and we wanted to keep that to as small a group as possible so that our current business didn’t suffer. And on that note, CBM is having an outstanding year which is a clear testament to the smart, hard work that all of our employees have been accomplishing.

Let me first start with our corporate structure going forward. UBM’s interest in buying CBM was to create a brand new business platform to grow worldwide in the international trade and transportation market, our core business. This is a growing market that presents enormous expansion opportunities both domestically and internationally. CBM will be that platform and I have agreed to remain the CEO of this new business and will report directly to David Levin, the CEO of UBM. We will remain a stand-alone business unit operating much the same way we have over the past five years. The rest of the senior management team, department heads and all of our employees will continue to operate your respective businesses and jobs with the same responsibilities that you have enjoyed prior to this event.

UBM as you’ll see when going through their website has core businesses in health care, public relations and information technology. They do many of the same types of things that we do, but on a larger scale and with a real international presence — particularly in Asia and Europe which, together with their capital will give us the opportunity to grow our core business that much faster both through organic development and also acquisition.

UBM is a company with over $1.5 billion in annualized revenues and over 5,000 employees, almost half of whom are in the U.S. Clearly, as a result of this size, we are going to be able to take advantage of economies of scale wherever practical in such areas as purchasing, health care benefits, travel and printing. What will not happen as a result of this transaction is a reduction of any kind in our compensation plans nor our benefits. We will in all likelihood, switch to some other plans, but in our review of the current suite of offerings that UBM has, they are all comparable to what we currently enjoy.

Over the next few weeks, representatives from UBM’s HR group will be visiting many of our offices and holding meetings to take you through their plans and any timetable for shifting any plans. We will also have a “town hall-type” meeting in both Newark and East Windsor attended by David, so that you’ll be able to get to meet him and ask him questions about the company and the future as he sees it. I will also be visiting Montreal and Toronto, San Francisco, Long Beach, Miramar, Atlanta, New Haven and Washington over the next few weeks to answer any questions that you might have as well.

We’ve come to this point in the brief history of CBM for a number of reasons. As you know, we have been backed by private equity that was primarily provided by RFE Investment Partners. They have been fantastic partners with management since 2000. RFE as many private equity funds have limitations on how much capital they can invest in any one portfolio company and we have hit that limit. CBM is a company that is poised for substantial growth over the next five years. The markets we serve are big and growing and the need for our information continues to be critical to our customers ongoing business needs. In order for CBM to continue to grow organically as well as through acquisitions we needed to raise more capital, which led to a deal with UBM.

What is important to note, is just how much our growth strategy and plans are aligned with that of our new parent. They have a demonstrated track record in supporting their core businesses and have given us a very strong commitment to support our growth strategies and we plan to keep them very busy on that end.

I am delighted to be joining David’s team and even more excited about the prospects that lie ahead for you and all the employees of CBM as we become part of the UBM family. If you have any questions before we have our town hall meetings or office visits, please feel free to e-mail me. I guarantee you’ll get a response.

Thanks for all your dedicated work. It is what has made this transaction possible and has assured that your company will continue to grow and prosper.

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