Apax: 'B2B publishing will thrive even in economic turmoil'

Business to business publishing will thrive even in economic turmoil but the current consumer publishing model is in trouble, according to private equity investors Apax.

Stephen Grabiner, a partner at Apax, which has invested in two major B2B businesses in the last two years, said that the industry would see growth despite an economic downturn. Apax bought the B2B publishing arm of Emap, with Guardian Media Group, and also acquired Incisive.

Speaking at the Periodicals Publishers Association’s business publishing conference in London today, Grabiner said publishers who wanted to grow had to look to the medium term view.

“All my instincts say there is a better chance of building the business in a time of turmoil.”

He said the task was to buy and build higher quality businesses and that companies wishing to do this should not limit themselves to the UK but take “a global view”.

Grabiner questioned the business model of consumer magazines. He said that research into consumer usage and advertising spend found that advertisers had yet to catch up with where consumers where spending time.

“What you see in consumer publishing is a much greater share of the advertising dollar than time spent by users on that media.”

He predicted that advertisers will move into spending in mediums where consumers spent more of their time and that the consumer publishers would be in “a very difficult position structurally”.

Grabiner warned that consumer magazine publishers would be worth less in five years time than they are now.

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