Reed Elsevier warns RBI sale 'cannot be certain'

Discussions between Reed Elsevier and potential buyers of its B2B magazine division are at an “advanced stage” but a “satisfactory outcome cannot be certain”, the company said today.

Reed Elsevier announced in February that it was looking to dispose of RBI, which publishes titles including New Scientist and Computer Weekly. The group said in July that it expected the sale to be completed by the end of the year.

But in a trading update this morning, the publisher said: “The process of divestment of Reed Business Information is at an advanced stage although in the present economic and credit environment a satisfactory outcome cannot be certain.

“As part of the process, a consortium of financing banks are in discussions with a small number of prospective buyers to provide financing. Reed Elsevier has indicated a willingness to provide financing support for any successful bid.”

The company said Reed Business Information had “held up well” this year – with strong growth in online more than compensating for declines in print.

“RBI is however now seeing more challenging advertising markets following the recent deterioration in economic outlook,” it added.

Reed Elsevier’s outgoing chief executive, Sir Crispin Davis, said: “The business is on track for a very successful year and we expect to deliver Reed Elsevier’s strongest constant currency earnings growth in over a decade.

“While the economic environment is undoubtedly challenging, our businesses are more resilient than most and we are in a strong financial position.”

Davis is set to be replaced as chief executive by Ian Smith, the former head of construction firm Taylor Woodrow, when he retires in March next year.

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