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When Reed Elsevier (NYSE: RUK) last spoke on the subject, it told the market it hoped to sell off its Reed Business Information (RBI) B2B pu…

When Reed Elsevier (NYSE: RUK) last spoke on the subject, it told the market it hoped to sell off its Reed Business Information (RBI) B2B publishing unit as early as October. But that was August – in the intervening period, a little thing has happened called “the credit crunch”.

Could the crunch munch the planned divestment, which Reed announced a whole seven months ago? paidContent:UK has been told Reed is finding it much harder to sell the Variety and New Scientist publisher than it was even three weeks ago. Not even a $1.6 billion “sweetener” loan offered to potential bidders is helping much. There’s now some question over whether the sell-off will go ahead at all, we understand.

B2B publishers have been in-play for M&A, but the leading bid for Lloyd’s List publisher Informa also collapsed in September after the consortium of private equity houses in the hunt found itself unable to raise the extra cash for Informa’s asking price. There would be dollops of irony if RBI’s sale was scuppered, too – Reed’s original motivation for selling was to “reduce exposure to cyclicality“; in other words, to get the hell out of an ad-funded publishing model that’s looking far too fragile at the moment.

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  1. The acquisition of Choice Point will continue to assert more pressure on the RBI divestiture especially since the valuation is dropping. Reed Elsevier needs to "dump it and run" before the value bottoms-out. They would be wise to execute "Plan B" and conduct a targeted sell-off of higher value RBI assets to move this along quicker. The sum of the parts would probably yield a higher return that the whole.

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