UBM: B2B heading for 'last man standing' scenario

United Business Media warned today that the B2B magazine world “remains significantly over published in the developed world” as it reported revenue in this sector down 23.1 per cent to £165.8m and operating profit down 62.8 per cent to £8.9m.

UBM revealed today that it had closed 31 titles and merged or reduced the frequency of many others in 2009 in response to the severe economic downturn and the structural decline in print advertising.

Reporting its full-year figures for 2009 it said that a “significant number” of B2B titles will close in the next few years.

It said: “In many – but not all – of the markets we serve, there will continue to be sufficient demand to support one or two leading titles, a position which each market will reach by means of a ‘last man standing’ process.

“We continue to manage our print portfolio actively towards a medium term goal of a smaller, commercially sustainable, more profitable portfolio in which most titles operate as part of an integrated portfolio of products serving a particular community.”

But UBM added: “Reader demand for quality content in print remains robust in many markets and geographies.”

It reported that it had launched a number of new print products in India and said that data from controlled circulation technology titles had given the US events business a ‘significant competitive advantage over their `internet only’ competitors”.

Overall UBM reported adjusted operating profit only marginally down year on year at £171.2m for 2009 on revenue down four per cent to £847.7m.

Events is the largest part of UBM’s business, delivering turnover down 1.5 per cent to £287.5m and operating profit up 6.2 per cent to £87.2m.

Data, Services and Online delivered turnover up 3.4 per cent to £232.9m and operating profit up 21.9 per cent to £37.9m.

Chief executive David Levin noted today UBM has now resolved a “decade-long dialogue with the UK tax authorities” over the sale of its regional newspapers business in 1998 with the payment of £46.5m.

He said: “We go into 2010 with our strategy clearly defined and with the operational and financial resources in place to implement that strategy. Despite the tentative and uneven economic recovery we see across our markets, we believe we are very well positioned for profitable growth in the medium term.”

UBM describes itself as a “leading global provider of events; data, marketing and information products; print products; and targeting, distribution and monitoring services to specialist business communities”. It employs 5,800 staff in more than 30 countries.

Its UK B2B brands include Farmer’s Guardian, Property Week and The Publican.

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