The media group confirmed that the review was prompted by unsolicited approaches the business had received and it has since emerged that Apax Partners was among the possible suitors.
The prized division, which publishes titles such as Retail Week and Nursing Times, includes its trade magazine and conference and events activities, and accounted for 32% of revenues and 45% of profits last year.
The EMAP division would be an attractive fit with Apax Partners’ existing business-to-business interests, the latter having led the £199m buyout of UK publishing group
Incisive Media also announced plans last month to acquire American Lawyer Media, the media company owned by M&A dealmaker Bruce Wasserstein for £310m.
Other parties that are being mooted as possible acquirers of EMAP’s business-to-business unit are United Business Media and Future Publishing.
EMAP, which owns titles such as Grazia as well as radio stations including Magic FM and Kiss FM, has been the subject of increasing speculation regarding a break-up of the group but the latest move is contrary to the position taken by executive chairman Alun Cathcart two months ago, when he pledged to keep the group whole.
EMAP has appointed Lazard and Citi to advise on the review.