Dame Helen lined up to chair magazine empire

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Dame Helen Alexander is understood to have been handed the role of chairman at FTSE-250 trade magazine publisher and events organiser United Business Media.

The appointment is expected to be confirmed by the time of UBM's interim results in July, when the current chairman, John Botts, is expected to step down. Ms Alexander is under-stood to have coveted a prominent FTSE role for some time, despite her already eye-catching jobs portfolio.

Ms Alexander, a former CBI president, is chairman of privately-owned publisher Incisive Media, heads the remuneration committee at Rolls-Royce, and is the Chancellor of the University of Southampton.

She has long been seen as the frontrunner for the chairmanship of UBM, which counts Property Week, and Building and Travel Trade Gazette among its leading titles and is considered one of the more stable business-to-business publishers.

It's fierce rival Emap, which is to berebranded Top Right Group, is currently being overhauled by former BSkyB director Duncan Painter, who became chief executive last year.

Burdened by heavy debts when private equity giant Apax and Guardian Media Group bought Emap for £1bn in 2008, Painter has split the company into three distinctive divisions: magazines, events and data. They are currently all under one roof in Camden, north London, but are expected to move to different locations. The magazines business, which includes Retail Week, Broadcast and Nursing Times, may go to Stockwell, south London.

The magazines are expected to go up-for-sale later this year, though are now thought to be worth only about £40m – far less than management had valued them.

Hawkpoint has been lined up to advise on any sale, though industry sources believe that there would be few potential buyers given the poor economic conditions for business-to-business titles.

Mr Painter is also reported to be close to appointing Moelis to sell the automotive data business CAP, which could fetch around £150m.