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Wednesday, January 20, 1999 Published at 09:00 GMT

Business: The Company File

Big in news, big in research

United News: Better known for its media concerns

The UK television and newspaper group, United News and Media, is to become one of the world's leading market research companies.

The group, better known for owning Anglia, Meridian and HTV television stations and Express newspapers, is buying a US market research organisation to add to its burgeoning business in this area.

The $42.5m purchase will be made by the company's subsidiary, United Information Group.

It is to buy Audits & Surveys Worldwide, a New York-based market research company, for $3.24 per share, a total cash consideration of £25.74m ($42.5m).

The takeover will mean United Information Group becomes one of the world's top five market research organisations with about £145.35m ($240m) of revenues, and doubles its size in the US.

Growing market

The US is the world's largest market for research services and with annual growth rates of around 10%, one of the fastest growing.

This expansion will help offset the gloomier company news before Christmas when United News & Media shares fell sharply after it warned that this year's profits would be slightly below forecasts.

The initial fall in its share price was triggered by the decision by the Independent Television Commission to propose lower-than-expected cuts in the statutory fees it must pay in order to broadcast its three ITV franchises in the UK.

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