RBI revenue drops 20% after disposals and closures

Revenue at Reed Business Information dropped 20 per cent last year as a result of the closure and sell off of scores of business magazines, its parent company said today.

Reporting full-year results this morning, Reed Elsevier said that RBI, which generates six per cent of its overall adjusted operating profits, drew revenue of £718m last year, down from £891m made in the previous 12 months.

Reed Elsevier said that over the last year it had sought to reshape RBI’s portfolio by significantly reducing costs and channelling investment into successful data services.

Disregarding the impact of the disposal or closure of many of RBI’s titles, Reed Elsevier said underlying revenue at its business publishing division was down two per cent year on year with underlying operating profit up four per cent at £89m.

“In 2010, Reed Business Information was significantly restructured and refocused,” its parent company said.

“The sale and closure of the US controlled circulation magazines and certain other titles were completed, together with the sale of RBI Germany and clusters of magazine titles in the Netherlands, UK, Italy, Spain, France, Ireland and Asia.

“The business was redefined by asset groups, and clear and distinct value creation plans were developed for each group.”

In January this year, RBI bought a majority share in petrochemical and energy information service CBI China and Reed Elsevier said it expected to see good growth in data services, which account for approximately 20 per cent of RBI’s revenue, and online marketing solutions in the coming year along with general improvements in advertising markets.

Overall revenue last year at Reed Elsevier, which makes the bulk of its income through professional information services run through its LexisNexis and Elsevier business, was the same as in the previous 12 months at £6.1bn, the company said.

Adjusted operating profit was down one per cent year on year to £1.6bn.

Reed Elsevier revealed in February last year that profits at RBI, which includes UK magazine brands such as Farmers Weekly, New Scientist and Flight International, slumped by more than a third in 2009 to £89m.

In July 2009, RBI UK sold its travel portfolio – including Travel Weekly magazine – to the entrepreneur behind Holiday Autos, Clive Jacobs. And in November that year it closed the 130 year-old weekly magazine for the UK construction industry, Contract Journal.

Reed Elsevier then stepped up the disposal of RBI titles across the globe following the appointment of Erik Engstrom as chief executive later that year.

In January last year, RBI sold its UK Cosmetics News Weekly title to rival Communications International Group for an undisclosed sum.

Reed then offloaded dozens of magazines from RBI’s US operation in April.

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