UBM returns £300m from sale proceeds

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The Independent Online

United Business Media is to return a further £300m to shareholders, despite announcing yesterday that the business-to-business publisher is to double acquisition expenditure.

UBM has been awash with cash after a disposal programme, which raised nearly £750m and included its market-research business, NOP, and its stake in Channel 5. It has already returned £550m to investors through special dividends and share buy-backs.

Yesterday, reporting well-received 2005 results, UBM said it planned to return "in excess" of £300m. The company said it would now look to spend from £150m to £250m a year on small to medium-sized deals, compared with £105m last year.

Analysts said the effort would be directed to buying online businesses and trade shows.

"We don't do huge deals. We don't believe that's the way to do it," said David Levin, the new chief executive. "UBM is now focused on businesses that support buyers and sellers... We will grow these businesses organically and by making 'bolt-on' acquisitions."

UBM reported that underlying revenues climbed 4.1 per cent in 2005, while pre-tax profits, before exceptionals, grew 7.2 per cent to £152.1m.

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