Inside UBM’s New Life Sciences Group
New division brings together legacy brands, new brands acquired in billion-dollar Advanstar deal.
UBM bought Advanstar for close to a billion dollars late last year, and the company isn’t wasting any time in taking advantage of the 150 events and 30 publications it got in the deal.
It’s starting with the life science space. Brands from medical, dental, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and veterinary sectors, previously managed separately under Advanstar, UBM Medica and UBM Canon, are being coupled into one Life Sciences group. Tom Ehart will oversee the division as senior managing director.
While most of the portfolio comes from Advanstar, the merged group becomes the largest source of medical print advertising in the U.S., has 500,000 print subscribers and generates more than 1.5 million monthly unique visits. Combined revenues are around $120 million.
“These are highly complementary businesses,” says Sally Shankland, CEO of UBM Americas, the parent group of the new Life Sciences division. “We can now reach the full spectrum of medical specialties in the United States and take advantage of synergies between the various pieces and have businesses that are working together in more substantial chunks.”
Synergies often go hand-in-hand with layoffs, but Shankland says she’s not anticipating any changes to staff as a result. She emphasizes that the businesses are complementary, not overlapping.
Update: A spokesperson has since clarified that while the businesses don't overlap, there are a few specific roles that do. As a result, there will indeed be a small number of positions eliminated. Less than five, says the spokesperson.
“The legacy UBM medical businesses are primarily digital in a few select specialties,” she says. “The Advanstar businesses have print and don’t have any brands in [those specialties]. We’re bringing both complementary products and access to market niches that they didn’t have access to.”
Touting the importance of print stands in sharp contrast to the path UBM Tech, another group under Shankland’s purview, has taken. UBM Tech laid off 60 to 70 employees and killed its print magazines in 2013 as part of a pivot toward a digital- and events-driven strategy. Shankland wasn’t involved in the decision making on that move—she was named CEO of UBM Americas in September—but says the situations aren’t exactly comparable.
“Audiences are different,” she says. “The tech audience was one of the first to move away from print, for obvious reasons. There are a lot of people in the medical space who still read print, still prefer print. Things like medical images show really well in print, and can be more difficult to look at via other media. Print will continue to play a role in the medical space.”