In what most likely is the largest acquisition the b-to-b publishing world has seen in several months, London-based United Business Media announced early Thursday morning that it has agreed to acquire medical industry publisher and events producer Canon Communications for $287 million. The sellers are chairman and CEO Charles G. McCurdy’s management/investment company Apprise Media, and Spectrum Equity Investors, its private equity partner.

According to UBM CEO David Levin, the acquisition of Canon is a strategic fit for the company because it “gives us a complementary portfolio of market-leading branded tradeshows and related products which serve highly attractive growth markets experiencing globalisation. The combination of Canon’s brands with both our worldwide infrastructure and our existing electronic engineering business offers us exciting growth opportunities, particularly in Canon’s core medical device design and manufacturing markets.”

Canon’s principal focus is on the medical device design and manufacturing and electronics engineering markets,which combined make up more than 65 percent of its overall revenues. The company publishes 24 industry magazines, which represent about 35 percent of its annual sales. Nearly half (48 percent) of its revenues come from the more than 40 tradeshows it produces each year in the U.S., Asia and Europe. Canon also produces 45 Web sites and more than 100 e-newsletters.

“David [Levin] and I have known each other for quite a while and the conversations eventually evolved into negotioations to buy Canon,” McCurdy tells FOLIO:. McCurdy says those negotiations began in earnest earlier this summer.

McCurdy says the deal is a good fit since Canon has a strong hold on the medical market in the U.S. while UBM has held a stronger share of the market abroad. UBM says its plan is to leverage Canon’s existing global tradeshow
infrastructure to create similar events in “fast-growing” economies such
as China, India and Brazil.

In the 12-month period ended June 30, Canon generated $106 million in revenues and $37 million  in EBITDA on a pro forma basis. Apprise acquired Canon in 2005 for approximately $200 million.

“This is an impressive sale and one of the largest in the b-to-b sector in some time,” says DeSilva + Phillips managing partner Reed Phillips. “It’s a great benchmark for the continuing importance of b-to-b.”

Apprise Media says it will be involved in the transition period following UBM’s formal acquisition. CEO McCurdy and manaing director Michael Behringer say they plan to “continue their roles as managing investors in media companies through Apprise Media.”

UBM says it will fund the acquisition from its existing bank facilities. As of June 30, UBM’s net debt was roughly $471.4 million.