Sale could spur change for Reed Elsevier titles

NEW YORK: The 80-plus titles put up for sale by media conglomerate Reed Elsevier could see significant changes, including mergers and closures, when the Reed Business Information (RBI) magazine division is sold, industry experts have said.

NEW YORK: The 80-plus titles put up for sale by media conglomerate Reed Elsevier could see significant changes, including mergers and closures, when the Reed Business Information (RBI) magazine division is sold, industry experts have said.

Reed Elsevier CEO Crispin Davis announced earlier this month that the corporation is divesting New York-based RBI to reduce exposure to cyclical advertising markets. The magazine division recorded a 2007 adjusted operating profit of $233 million. Of that, 30% was earned online, while 60% came from ads.

Patrick Kerr, Reed Elsevier director of corporate communications, declined comment on the potential sale.

Yet sweeping post-sale changes will not affect flagship publication Variety as much as lesser-known titles, predicted Rafat Ali, publisher and editor of PaidContent. org, a publishing economics blog.

"[Variety is] too entrenched in the Hollywood ecosystem for them to consider [page cuts] on the print side - they can't do it," he said. "With Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable, that could be a case where they merge the books. Some of the b-to-b titles and some of the other magazines, such as Video Business, could be closed down, just because they're hurting quite a bit and the books are very thin at this point."

International private equity firm Apax Partners, reported to be considering a bid for RBI, would likely focus on improving the titles' online presence, said Trylon SMR president Lloyd Trufelman.

"If I were at Apax, I would look at these trade magazines [and] get rid of their print editions" he added. "If you look at the print editions of most of these books, they're getting thinner and thinner, so all the recruitment advertising moves online. I'd assume any private equity firm would go in there, look for efficiencies, and then offload it in a couple of years."

Apax marketing associate Randi Delano declined comment, saying it is against company policy to address rumors and speculation.

Reed Elsevier also announced this month that it has agreed to buy ChoicePoint, a risk-management vendor, for $4.1 billion. It intends to combine ChoicePoint's assets with the LexisNexis technology.

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