Friday, June 30, 2006

Centaur and Higgs

Centaur Media floated a little over two years ago. Since then their share price has stubbornly refused to drift far above the flotation level of £1 a share. At the time of the float CEO and Chairman Graham Sherren promised to seperate the role of Chairman and Chief Executive as the Higgs report recommended Two years on and still no news. But then I think Sherren has promised to hire a COO or similar for many years and never has. Allegedly there are seven candidates for the role of CEO but who of any calibre would take the job whilst GS has his hands firmly curled around the tiller. My guess is that there will be no change and that the Company founder will want to stay in charge for as long as physically possible.

Nobody can deny the success of the business that Sherren built but if Centaur is to segue from being an old style conglomerated federation of magazines and events into a 21st century media company with a clear and focussed growth model then the right executive decision must be to deal with the management succession issue as soon as possible

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Revamp and Cuts at the TES

No surprises that the TES has embarked on a round of job cuts. The CEO of the private equity backed management buy in is Bernard Gray. He used to be a henchman of Clive Hollick at UBM, most recently as CEO of CMPi. He developed a reputation there for aggressive cost cutting. His success was to improve margins dramitcally, but at some considerable cost to morale and the quality of the products in some peoples view.

Many people put their ruler over TES when it was put up for sale last year. Most concluded that there was little prospect for growth from the core business, but there were dark corners of costs to explore. The trouble is that cost cutting won't delliver sustainable growth. TES job cuts are camouflaged in a uniform of relaunch and reader research. I have no doubt that under the leadership of Louise Rogers, a one time editor of Building Design and a rare Bernard Gray favourite, the paper will be improved over time, but unless there is a strategy for revenue growth as well as cost cuts this could be an enterprise with a tough future ahead.

Building Mag does Video

Press Gazette reports that CMPi's Building magazine is sending it's reporters out with cameras to capture interviews for their web site. Two things wrong with this. Firstly, by their own admissions the content won't be of professional standard and secondly who cares, except for grey suited publishers, whether the web offering is integrated with the magazine offering.

This smacks of dusty old century publishers trying to protect their magazines with a half baked scheme. Digital publishers would only care about the user experience. Traditional pubilshers care about defending their ink on dead trees. I know who I'd back.

Wilmington and Metal Bulletin Merge

Nobody seems very surprised that these two mid size business media companies are merging. The combined entity http:// will according to the Telegraph make a £330m turnover business.

What this deal illustrates is the growing pressure on business media companies as their traditional ad revenues decline. In the absence of any creativity in their thinking these two businesses have concluded that the answer to the new world is to bigger not cleverer. I think they are wrong. Outside of a cost synergies and the creation of a conbined cash and balance sheet resource their is little or no logic to the merger. Wilmington CEO Charles Bradyhttp:// has a good track record of running a good business. In his new role as CEO of the merged entity he will have to discover vision if there is to be nay long term value creation out of this deal.