Jobs go as Future axes Business 2.0 in Europe

Future has closed the European editions of its new economy title Business 2.0.

It has also announced the closure of the company’s loss-making German operation Future Verlag.

It will affect the German, Italian and UK editions and around 13 journalists have lost their jobs in the UK. Although Future said it would try to find alternative posts, it is uncertain how many will remain at the company. The cost of closing the UK and Italian editions is estimated at £1m.

The editor of Business 2.0, Marcus Austin, said: "I kind of expected it because back in February Future announced it was looking for a buyer for the US version." The move comes just weeks after the collapse of rival title Industry Standard (Europe) which led to around 30 editorial job losses. Speculation was also mounting this week over a possible sale of Red Herring which operates in a similar market.

It is understood its San Francisco- based publisher, Red Herring Communications, approached AOL Time Warner’s magazine division and Ziff Davis Media with a view to selling either the magazine or part of the company.

In November the magazine took on 20 extra reporters and increased its frequency to fortnightly to boost its news coverage, but advertising is believed to have dropped off since the dot.com bubble burst.

Kenneth Cukier left his post as Red Herring editor in February and is now technology editor of the Asian Wall Street Journal.

Cukier declined to comment on his departure when contacted by Press Gazette in Hong Kong this week, except to say: "It was a very difficult decision for me to take. Red Herring is an incredible publication. It is clearly the best of its kind and was smart enough to avoid the pitfalls." Future is now exploring options for the future development of the US edition of Business 2.0, worth an estimated £35m. The options include a possible sale or joint venture. CondŽ Nast and AOL Time Warner have both been tipped as potential buyers.

One insider suggested Future may have already found a buyer interested in the US version but not the European arm. Future Verlag reported losses of £6.4m last year. And Future predicts further losses of £2.9m for the current financial year, prior to its closure.

Future’s chief executive, Colin Morrison, said there were no immediate plans to close any more titles.

"We certainly did try to do too much too quickly and to some extent the closure of Business 2.0 is part of that," he said.

by Ruth Addicott

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