A wee bit of news from last week that slipped almost unnoticed onto the wires: RBI have sold off Quadrant Subscription Services to the mailing company Air Business.
QSS are in the boring but important world of managing magazine subscriptions – banking money, answering queries, generating the data of who should be mailed each issue. It’s a low margin, volume-driven business with a diminishing number of major players.
What Air Business want to do with a company losing clients and operating a geriatric computer system is anyone’s guess, but the sale is indicative of RBI’s flight from the printed word. When they had dozens of titles that needed to be mailed out to subscribers it made sense to own the company that managed that reader relationship. Now they don’t, it doesn’t – QSS are ill-equipped to manage digital subscriptions (i.e. they can’t do it) and the investment needed to bring their systems up to date is huge.
Has anyone counted how many magazines remain at RBI? Does anyone want to place a bet on when the last one will close or be sold?
After months of chipping away at its US portfolio, with small sales here and closures there, Reed Elsevier announced today that it is closing down the magazines it has not been able to sell or does not intend to keep. In total, the number of magazines to be closed down is 23. From Folio:
How cold the wind blowing from the west will be is the question that must be going through the minds of the boys and girls in Sutton.
From the Guardian:
Reed Business Information is to make 18 staff redundant as part of a restructuring that will include the closure of 130-year old Contract Journal.
This follows the pattern of death by a thousand cuts for RBI.
Just when you thought that RBI were getting dull again, up pops this from Press Gazette:
Ian Smith, the chief executive of business publisher Reed Elsevier, has resigned with immediate effect after little more than eight months in the post.
Reed Elsevier announced that Smith resigned “with mutual agreement” and has stepped down today from the company’s board.
Elsevier chief executive Erik Engstrom has been appointed as his replacement.
A company spokesman told Reuters that Smith had been the wrong man for the current economic climate. “Ian and the board decided it wasn’t the right role for him in the current economic circumstances… There is no disagreement on strategy.” [my emphasis]
I love it when everyone agrees about everything, don’t you?
According to the FT Reed Elsevier has sold another division of Reed Business Information.
My old mate Crispin Davis’s stated aim at the start of last year’s wonderful divestment pantomime was to find a buyer for the whole shebang; his successor seems to be in the process of getting rid of small pieces at a time in the hope that no one outside of Quadrant House will notice.
Hot on the heels of the news of wage freezes and job cuts in the US arm of RBI this report from Press Gazette states that 35 of their UK staff are also being shown the exit.
Given the parlous state of the market and the fact that no one at Reed Elsevier actually wants to keep RBI going, these won’t be the last of the losses; more interesting than these little bits of pruning will be the titles that get closed down or which go web only. (more…)
Some thought it would run for ever, but this afternoon the curtain seems to have come down on one of publishing’s best-loved productions. Yes folks: Reed shelves sale
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to miss it. (more…)
The RBI drama is approaching its cliffhanger ending – will the hero swoop in and save the girl, or will everything crash and burn?
If these paragraphs in the Independent’s report are anything to go by then both could be correct.
Reed Elsevier…is close to selling [RBI] to US buyout group Bain Capital for $1bn (£680m), after its main rival …the private equity group TPG dropped out of the auction…after its investment committee last weekend decided the acquisition was too risky in the current economic climate.
Rival media groups are surprised that Bain is keen to plough on with the deal, given the likely continued deterioration of advertising revenues. However, an industry source pointed out that Reed had not taken … costs out of the business, offering RBI’s new owner quick savings through restructuring.
If you (currently) work for RBI, you probably shouldn’t max out your credit cards this Christmas. (more…)
In years to come the sale of RBI will produce a slew of learned articles on how not to manage corporate divestment. So far we’ve got a process that has become hideously extended, plummeting values and near-panic among Reed Elsevier’s big nobs. Until then, the rest of us can only watch and laugh. The latest instalment is in the FT:
Reed Elsevier admitted on Thursday that the sale of its Reed Business Information subsidiary was uncertain because of difficulties in the credit market. RBI … was also suffering more challenging advertising markets.