The Business On... David Levin, Chief executive, UBM

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The Independent Online

Hey big spender?

Very droll. You are, however, right to point out that Mr Levin has splashed the cash since taking the top job at UBM five years ago. The £185m deal to buy Canon Communications, announced yesterday, takes his total spending spree, on 80 companies, to just shy of £650m.

What's with all the deal-making?

Well, Mr Levin did inherit something of a hotch-potch on taking the top job at what was once the acquisitions vehicle of Clive – now Lord – Hollick. He promised to reshape it, selling off non-core assets and buying into high-growth sectors. Analysts are impressed by his efforts.

Has he always been so driven?

Still only 48, he's certainly had a varied career. Since Oxford, he enjoyed senior roles at Bain, Apax, Euromoney, Psion and Symbian before moving to UBM. Often tipped for a FTSE 100 chief executive's job, that he has stayed with UBM for so long has surprised some observers.

Maybe he likes the stability?

Well, you could understand that with his family history. Mr Levin's father Archie was a political journalist in what was then Rhodesia. When David was aged just two, the family was given a day's notice to get out of the country. They had to start from scratch in Britain.

That sounds like psycho-babble.

Probably. Mr Levin's ongoing tenure at UBM may just reflect his ambitions for the company. A merger with Informa, which would have taken the company into the Footsie, was discussed a couple of years ago, for example, but talks broke down.

What next?

You'll have to wait and see. Mr Levin is publicity-shy, rarely giving nterviews. He also has a habit of being unpredictable – just ask his family, who were taken aback when he put off going up to Oxford for a year after school, opting instead for Sandhurst and a stint in the Fusiliers.

So he's not just a brainbox?

Indeed not. A keen skier, Mr Levin likes his sport – he's a lifelong fan of Tottenham Hotspur.