April 29, 2015 / 6:22 PM / 5 years ago

Exclusive: UBM explores sale of PR Newswire - sources

(Reuters) - British communications and events company UBM Plc UBM.L is exploring a sale of PR Newswire Association LLC in a deal that could value the distributor of press releases at more than $700 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

UBM is in discussions with potential buyers, including private equity firms, about selling PR Newswire, the people said this week. There is no certainty UBM will decide to divest the business, the people added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential. UBM declined to comment, while a PR Newswire spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

New York-based PR Newswire distributes corporate announcements and marketing via news agencies such as Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.TO) and other digital platforms. For years it has been seen by analysts as non-core to UBM’s main franchise of organizing trade events such as the world’s largest fashion convention.

UBM is the world’s second-largest events organizer. Last year, it unveiled a three-to-five-year ‘Events First’ strategy aimed at increasing the company’s market share of the largest and most profitable shows. In December, it acquired U.S. tradeshow organizer Advanstar Communications for $972 million.

PR Newswire had revenue of 195.8 million pounds ($302.8 million) in 2014, accounting for 26 percent of UBM’s total revenue and down 3 percent from 2013. Its adjusted operating profit was 44.8 million pounds, down 1.8 percent.

Private equity firms have shown keen interest in marketing and public relations companies in the last year. GTCR LLC, for example, last year acquired public relations software company Cision and merged it with peer Vocus. It subsequently used Cision to acquire Gorkana Group Limited, a media intelligence and data insights service provider.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis and Liana B. Baker in New York; editing by Andrew Hay

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