December 13, 2016 / 7:58 AM / 10 months ago

UBM to buy Allworld in Asia push, Middle East foray

(Reuters) - Event organiser UBM Plc (UBM.L) said it would buy Asian exhibitions company Allworld for $485 million (381.80 million pound) in cash, strengthening its position in Asia and providing an entry into the Middle East.

The deal, which will be funded with a new $365 million bridge facility and by part of the proceeds from UBM’s sale of PR Newswire, is expected to add to 2017 earnings.

The cash consideration, which values Allworld on a debt and cash free basis, looked like a “very high price,” Investec analysts wrote in a client note.

Allworld, which operates tradeshows in 11 countries, posted revenue of $97.2 million in the 12 months ended June 30.

The company complements UBM’s existing portfolio in food and hospitality, and packaging and manufacturing, while allowing UBM to enter the oil and gas market.

“Oil and gas is probably nearer the bottom of the cycle than the top, so it’s a good time to be entering oil and gas,” UBM Chief Executive Tim Cobbold told Reuters.

Oil closed at $55.7 a barrel on Monday, down from highs of about $100 a barrel in June 2014. LCOc1

N+1 Singer analyst Johnathan Barrett said major exhibition operators had switched their acquisition focus from emerging markets to the United States.

“UBM is doing the opposite and lifting its exposure to Asia and gaining a Middle East presence as well. Near term this looks likely to be questioned but may well pay off in the long term if the Middle East and Asia regain confidence,” Barrett added.

Peer Informa Plc (INF.L) in September agreed to buy U.S.-based information services company Penton for 1.18 billion pounds ($1.50 billion). UBM spent $972 million to buy U.S. trade show organiser Advanstar in 2014, which analysts said was dilutive to the company's Asia exposure. reut.rs/2hz3BWS

“I don’t think we’re moving in the polar opposite direction at all,” Cobbold said, adding that post the deal emerging markets including China would account for about 40 percent of group sales, up from 36 percent.

UBM unveiled its "events first" strategy in November 2014, with a focus on spending resources on its largest and most profitable shows and acquisitions. reut.rs/2gUwRUa

UBM would continue to make bolt-on acquisitions and keep looking at “bigger” ones, Cobbold added.

J.P. Morgan Cazenove provided financial advice to UBM, while BCMS advised Allworld.

UBM shares were up 2.1 percent at 724 pence at 1507 GMT.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Esha Vaish; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri and Martina D'Couto

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