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Breaking: Reed Elsevier To Sell Part Of U.S. Business

pw.pngIn a memo to staffers today, Reed Business Information Global CEO Keith Jones revealed a plan to divest a bulk of the company’s U.S. publications. RBI will hold on to Reed Construction Data US & Canada, RS Means, Variety, Marketcast, LA411 and Buyerzone, Jones said. The rest of the U.S. titles will be sold, including Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News.

“We have decided to focus our efforts and investments on a narrower range of brands and markets, and with this in mind we are announcing today our intention to divest a significant part of the RBI US business,” Jones said in his memo. “This has been a difficult decision to reach as there are many strong brands here, with very experienced and professional teams running them, but we have concluded that they are less well suited to RBI’s strategy going forward.”

Jones also added that Tad Smith, CEO of RBI’s U.S. business, has resigned “to pursue a new job challenge.” He will be replaced by EVP and CFO John Poulin, who has been appointed acting CEO.

Jones’ memo is below. We will keep you posted as news develops. And, as always, your tips are welcome.

Update: RBI’s parent Reed Elsevier has put out a statement and a full list of those properties that have been put on the block — nearly 50 publications plus their related international editions and online products. “We have had to contend with a far harsher advertising environment than any of us have experienced before and, in such a climate, we have to focus not just on innovation and efficiency, but also on ensuring that our portfolio is well-matched with our long-term ambitions,” Jones said.


Jones’ memo:

Since taking over as CEO of RBI in December last year, I have had the opportunity to review all of our businesses and meet with colleagues working in many of the countries we operate in. Despite the serious trading pressures we face, I am very excited by what I have found.

I believe we have all the ingredients to build a world-class B2B media company, with online products and services providing an increasingly important revenue stream, where we engage more closely with our customers, meeting the evolving needs of users and advertisers with some of the very best brands in B2B media; and all of this underpinned by the most creative and dedicated people in the industry.

Equally we have to contend with a far harsher advertising environment than any of us have experienced before and, in such a climate, we have to focus not just on innovation and efficiency, but also on ensuring that our portfolio is well-matched with our long-term ambitions.

Having completed our portfolio review, we have decided to focus our efforts and investments on a narrower range of brands and markets, and with this in mind we are announcing today our intention to divest a significant part of the RBI US business.

While we will be retaining Reed Construction Data US & Canada, RS Means, Variety, Marketcast, LA411 and Buyerzone within RBI — these are businesses that fit well with our plans and they are leading brands in their markets — we are announcing today our intention to sell all the other publications and services in RBI US, as well as their related titles and services in Asia.

This has been a difficult decision to reach as there are many strong brands here, with very experienced and professional teams running them, but we have concluded that they are less well suited to RBI’s strategy going forward. I would like to thank the teams for their commitment to the brands and markets they continue to serve. We are also announcing today that Tad Smith has resigned as CEO of our US business. Tad is leaving to pursue a new job challenge. On a personal note I would like to thank Tad for nine years of outstanding service, latterly as CEO of RBI US. We wish him well, and he leaves with our best wishes.

John Poulin is appointed with immediate effect as acting CEO for RBI US — for the portfolio we are to divest and for all support services within RBI US. In this role he will report to me, and he will continue in his role as CFO with a functional report to Trevor Jenkins, RBI’s Global CFO. In addition to his current duties, Jeff DeBalko, President of Business Media and Chief Internet Officer, will take responsibility for our Chicago-based construction titles under Dean Horowitz, New York-based Interior Design under Mark Strauss, along with Tradeshow Week and Video Business.

Reporting lines for the businesses we are retaining in the US will change as follows, with immediate effect: Iain Melville at RCD and Neil Stiles at Variety will directly report to me (with Henry Shapiro at Marketcast continuing to report to Neil). Mie-Yun Lee, President of Buyerzone, will report to RBI UK Managing Director Dominic Feltham, who will be responsible for developing our lead generation businesses across RBI.

These are challenging times for all media businesses. The changes we have announced today will position RBI well for the future. Although our portfolio will need to continue to evolve in the years ahead, the major changes to RBI’s portfolio are now complete. I look forward to working with colleagues across RBI to build a strong, growing business for the long-term.

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