United buys Telecom Library for pounds 81m

United News & Media, Lord Hollick's media group, yesterday continued its spending spree by announcing the $130m (pounds 81m) acquisition of Telecom Library, a US-based magazine and trade show business.

The company also announced it had made a profit of pounds 57m on the sale of its 14 per cent stake in Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television (YTTV). Granada bought United's holding for pounds 100m last month as part of its agreed acquisition of YTTV.

United has snapped up HTV, the regional TV company covering the West Country, and Blenheim, the conference group, in recent months. The company said it would now turn its attention to becoming a force in digital television, which should herald the introduction of hundreds of new channels.

A United spokesman said yesterday: "We are currently involved in digital TV through an association with S4C. It is not an end to our acquisition activity. We are now looking in different areas like digital."

Analysts believe the rapid phase of consolidation of the ITV network has come to an end and United, Carlton and Granada have emerged as the three dominant players in the industry. "That looks pretty much it for the ITV map for now. Scottish Media is likely to bid for Ulster but that's about it," said one analyst.

Tony Tillin, chief executive of Miller Freeman, the business publishing arm of United, also ruled out acquisitions after the purchase of Telecom Library. "Taken with the Blenheim acquisition, this completes the present phase of Miller Freeman's expansion through acquisition," he said.

Telecom Library produces a series of magazines and organises conferences about advanced computer products including those that combine the latest phone and computer technology. "This acquisition takes Miller Freeman's IT and telecoms division into world leadership in one of the most exciting and fast-growing sectors in the market," Mr Tillin said. He plans to introduce titles such as Computer Telephony, Call Center and Teleconnect and Imaging to Europe and the Far East. The group also hopes to launch conferences around the world.

However Miller Freeman confirmed it was likely to make 100 people redundant as part of restructuring of its UK publishing business, which is likely to see the closure of the head office in Woolwich.

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