The owners of Maplin Electronics and the AA are in the running for the data services division of the publisher and events organiser UBM.
Montagu Private Equity and Charterhouse Capital Partners have made the second round of the sale process being run by Credit Suisse. There are thought to be up to five bidders, with Esure motor insurance owner Electra Partners believed to be one.
Banking sources suggested that UBM, which in Dame Helen Alexander has one of the few women chairmen in the FTSE, could struggle to get the £200m-£250m valuation that analysts have placed on data services. This division is a bundle of slightly different businesses that provide data to the health, aviation and timber industries. In the first nine months of this year, it suffered a 2.2 per cent underlying revenue fall to £123.7m, though sources said that the businesses providing information to the forestry and consumer electronics industries are strong.
UBM, better known for trade journals such as Building magazine and Property Week, has said it hopes to complete a "strategic review" of data services by the first quarter of next year. Money raised from the sale could be invested in UBM's fast-growing exhibitions business, which hosts some 400 shows in more than 30 countries.