Tech's Back: Spate Of M&As Signal Something's Up

When U.K.-based tech publisher United Business Media (UBM) announced Thursday it was acquiring a pair of online concerns, it was only the latest move in a stream of tech-related acquisitions by big media concerns. The moves have some observers wondering: having seen the tech market bottomed out, is it on the way up?

In the last few months, in addition to UBM's acquisition today of online publishing and analysis firm Light Reading, Inc. and media platform TechOnLine, spectators have watched Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. consume Scout Media, Media General's buy-out of advergamer Blackdot Inc. and Gannett's purchase of the rich media technology company PointRoll.

"Diversified media has a mandate to grow and to own growth businesses, and right now, many of those businesses are digital," says Tolman Geffs, managing director at Jordan, Edmiston, a New York firm that specializes in middle-market merger and acquisition advisory services to the media and information industries.



Jordan, Edmiston represented PointRoll, Light Reading Inc., and Informex in their negotiations with the traditional media entities that eventually subsumed them, and recently released a study indicating that--for the first time--the majority of online acquisitions in recent months had come at the behest of major diversified media companies.

"Each of these companies is looking to redeploy some percentage of their capital to high-growth businesses and to reach their audiences and advertisers in newer and more targeted ways," says Geffs. And I think that big media's timing is pretty good--they are paying good prices, but given the growth of these businesses, they are going to look like very good acquisitions in two to three years."

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