Why can't Peter Rigby think of any positive arguments for a UBM-Informa merger?

From Andrew Davidson in the Sunday Times, an odd interview with an agitated-sounding Peter Rigby, chairman of Informa.

Odd because. . . well, I can’t imagine a PR advisor telling him to do it. (And PR advisors tend to rule the roost in situations like this).

Perhaps Rigby has chosen the Sunday Times to have a chat because it was the Sunday Telegraph that broke the story about merger talks.

Either way, it’s clear there’s a blame game going on about who leaked news of the UBS-Informa talks to the media. (‘Our team didn’t leak it,’says Rigby.)

Also in the air: a clear concern on Rigby’s part that he may not play a part in any merged company.

Indeed, he slips into something like walkaway-mode when he starts to discuss Informa’s motives:

‘It’s not to solve a debt problem or a CEO problem. We [Informa] are a fantastically balanced business, 60% of profits come from publishing subscriptions, we have really good geographic spread, our Dubai office is really motoring. Only 3% of our revenues come from advertising.”

Rigby is clearly also negative on the prospect of a UBM takeover (as opposed to a merger). The scenario he sketches out positions David Levin of UBM as a prospective Napoleon on the road to Moscow.

“If it turns out that way, it is more problematic, because people inside will feel like they have been taken over. We have to work very hard with people here, it’s about the niche-ness, the specialisms.”

Rigby spins the obligatory line that he will “try and do the right thing by shareholders”. But in terms of pro-merger arguments, that’s about it — a perfunctory commitment to do the right thing, and nothing else.

Lukewarm? That doesn’t quite cover it. From where I’m sitting, Peter Rigby’s approach to merger talks seems positively chilly.

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