Apax is likely to stand a good chance of acquiring the assets as it already owns numerous specialist business publishers and understands the sector well. However, other potential bidders include
Reed Business Information, which mainly comprises print titles, could fetch more than £1bn, according to analysts.
The move by Reed Elsevier to put the unit up for sale comes after its purchase for £2.1bn of ChoicePoint, a US-based online provider of risk management and analytical tools to the insurance industry. It wants to drive synergies with its existing fast growth units such as LexisNexis Risk Information and Analytics Group, which provide compliance and legal information for a range of industries.
Reed Elsevier, which last year sold another print business, Harcourt Education, to Pearson, owner of the Financial Times, is keen to divest its print-based business-to-business media assets and particularly titles that are advertising-driven. This is due to their sensitivity to economic cycles.
If Apax went ahead it would mark a string of purchases of business-to-business publications. Recent acquisitions include buying business titles from EMAP, a UK media group, for £1bn in partnership with Guardian Media Group. Other purchases in the sector include backing Incisive’s £275m MBO, a specialist UK publisher of business titles, and Thomson Learning and the Gale Group, for which it paid £3.9bn in 2007.