Wednesday, March 19, 2008

EMAP abandons Carter for Gilbertson

The appointment of Informa founder David Gilbertson to the role of EMAP Business CEO must have come as a bitter blow to the incumbent, Derek Carter. He must have mused that when GMG/APAX decided not to proceed with the merger of Incisive Media and EMAP, that his position was secure - at least for a while.

There activity in the headhunting world and it was an open secret that there was a process going on to appoint the CEO, but Carter must have assumed he was a certainty. Gilbertson is a a mature and experienced exec, turing Informa into one of the worlds leading business media houses. Nevertheless this is a challeng of a different kind. EMAP execs don't take kindly to outsiders and don't like being told what to do. It will be sporty.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Farming Online Quits Original Journalism

Online isn't so easy. Farming online has replaced copy written by journalists with an automated feed and claims,

"no subscribers had complained about the change and that while IFBN gave stories “a certain focus and helped expand it” he wondered if that “added value” was noticeable."

This is certainly grounded in financial necessity, but is a grim warning about the future of business journalism. In days gone by the national press and the broadcast media would use trade publications as expert sources of specialist news. Just as local newspapers would have hacks tracking down stories that nationals could not possibly identify and resource, so trade journalists dug out the truth in their specialist areas of interest. There have been many occasions when national newspapers have lifted whole stories from trade papers with little change or fillow up. Only this morning Computer Weeklys Executive Editor, Tony Collins was interviewed in the Today programme about transparency of government IT projects.

As business mags die, the fourth estate will be ever more dependent on news from the web. If the farming online intiative is a the start of a trend, rather than a curiosity, the days of business media being influential are numbered.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Heave ho Huveaux

Huveaux has reported dreadful preliminary results for 2007. Revenue grew by just 2% and profits collapsed to 400k from £2.3m. A million of this was exceptional restructuring costs and costs of the aborted sales process. Nevertheless this once hot and aquisitive group is now embattlled in trying to prove it has something worthwhile to offer shareholders.

It has suffered badly from the collapse in Pharma advertising in France and it could be argued not their fault, but this cannot disguise that Gerry Murray (pictured looking wierdly youthful), the CEO has a tough time ahead of him. Huveaux has declared that it will not make any further acquisitions for the time being as it hunkers down and tries to work out how to make a profit from what its got. They say it will be more events and more online, but they don't say how. They do say this though,

"The trading environment for all media companies in 2008 is predicted to be challenging. Whilst much of our advertising is ‘defensive’ in nature, we will not be entirely immune to an economic downturn .We can expect very little in the way of growth in advertising".

So no growth in what they have - and no acquisitions. Its tough out there.

Monday, March 3, 2008

UBM is an Exhibitions Company Shock

While on the subject of UBM we should note their interim results. I'll translate. 70% of profits come from events. UBM is an events company then - not a publishing company. £20m of profit was eliminated beacuse fo the weak dollar - UBM are very exposed to this. Publishing continues to decline and not to much mention is made of electronic and digital profits to come.

UBM enjoys a rating as a business media player. In truth it is an exhibition organiser with a bit of pubishing going on.

Will the UK CMPi business survive? I'll bet that som thought is going into a review of its future. With focussed CEO action on CMP in the USA (see report below) and almost all the profit coming from shows and conferences, I doubt that the magazine and publishing business will stay long in UBMs ownership

United Business Media Changes CMP

United Business Media has begun to wrestle with the challenges of CMP. This was acquired from the Leedes family at the height of the tech boom in the last century. It has been in trouble almost ever since. The recovery in the tech market has helped the business make progress in the last couple of years. The latest wheeze is to divide the entrerprise into four bits, the old publishing bit,, a business devoted to the channels sector, a business devoted to the electronics sector, and a workflow businesss

This dressed up as a big announcement but is little more than an internal reorganisation. Interestingly David LEvin is taking the direct reports of each of the section CEO's implying a high level of high level interference and meddling, something for which Levin is oft accused by those who have worked with him