Closures and Layoffs Coming At Reed Business U.S.; Sale Process Falls Flat, Again

The Reed Business U.S. sale process is a tough going, according to an internal year-end memo sent out by RBI USA CEO John Poulin yesterday, and obtained by us. The parent company tried to sell the global RBI unit last year and that was abandoned after it couldn’t find a buyer at the price it wanted. Then earlier this year, it announced a process to only sell certain titles of its U.S. RBI arm, and hired investment bank Jordan, Edmiston Group for it.

Now, as Poulin says in the memo below, the company has not been able to sell all of the 50-odd titles on sale together, so it has now shifted the focus to selling off piecemeal. As part of that, it was able to offload — probably for pennies on the dollar, if that — its three media-group titles Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News, and Twice late last year to Newbay Media. And in the memo below it says it is in “advanced discussions to sell a number of titles to separate purchasers”. What this also means is a number of them that will not find a buyer will be shut down, and of course, layoffs.

Here’s the full list of titles that the company put up for sale from RBI U.S.’s portfolio. Any guesses on which ones would be shut down?

From: Poulin, John (RBI-US)
To: RBI-US All Employees
Sent: Thu Dec 31
Subject: Important Divestiture Note: Looking Ahead to 2010

“As we close the year, I want to update you on the sale process and consequential restructuring plans. We are in advanced discussions to sell a number of titles to separate purchasers and, if these are satisfactorily concluded, expect to make announcements on these sales in the next few months. We have not been able to sell the business as a whole and this unfortunately will result in title closures and job losses across the business during the first half of the New Year. I know that this will come as a major disappointment but reflects the impact of the structural changes in our markets, accelerated by the recession.

This is not the type of news that I would choose to share during the holiday season. However, it is the reality for our business and we must plan our professional lives going forward. As soon as I have specific information about individual sales and closures, I promise to let you know.

Please remember that if you have questions about the divestiture process, there is a FAQ posted at The FAQ in relation to employment issues are also relevant to restructuring actions. You can send additional questions to [email protected]

Thank you for staying focused and positive during this very difficult time.”