A tie-up between the two firms would create the world’s largest business-to-business events company, with well over 11,000 employees at the two firms.
The firms were forced to reveal the “preliminary discussions” after shares in FTSE 250-listed UBM rose today. In a joint statement both companies said there was no certainty an offer would be made.
The initial approach was made by FTSE 100 firm Informa, which has until 13 February to make an offer, or else will be forced to drop its interest.
Informa’s move comes just 16 months after it bought US rival Penton for £1.2bn, as it seeks to create an international business events powerhouse with the scale to attract the most valuable clientele to exhibitions and conferences.
A deal with UBM would create a firm with significant scale in China and the US, as well as in other growth markets such as Brazil and countries in the Middle East. UBM describes itself as a “pure-play” events firm, whereas Informa has extensive publishing and business information interests.
Shares in UBM rose by more than five per cent today, giving a market capitalisation of almost £3.1bn. Shares in Informa were largely unmoved.