Reed Elsevier Re-considers RBI Sale; Launches New Online Article Format


Scientific and medical publisher Reed Elsevier (NYSE: RUK) looks to be re-evaluating long-standing plans to sell off its Reed Business Information B2B magazine division. Reed failed to sell the division last year and called off a bungled sale process in December, hindered by a freezing of capital markets; its then CEO Sir Crispin Davies said he was still keen on selling it in the “medium term”.

But now reports that new CEO Ian Smith is keen on keeping hold of the division and selling only some of its assets — the company itself isn’t commenting. So in any case we may well see more cost-cutting and lay-offs — the company shed 50 staff in April and sold RBI’s travel division earlier this month. Reed still does no doubt want to sell the division, but may be taking a realistic view on whether it can. Davies admitted before leaving that he should have sold RBI in 2007 — before the credit crunch gave lending banks cold feet about financing beg money media acquisitions, so hopes of seeing through a sale now must be slim indeed. Expect more on this in Reed’s H109 results on July 30.

Meanswhile Reed wants to reinvent the wheel when it comes to articles in its online journals: the company has kicked off a project to “redefine how a scientific article is presented online”, giving dull old text based articles a non-linear structure, graphics and integrated multimedia. The Article of the Future project wants to give its academic and professional audience multiple entry points to an article instead of expecting them to adhere to the print-based idea of reading articles from start to finish. Prototypes are out this week. Release.

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