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Thursday, February 21, 2008

For Sale: Reed Business Information 

Rafat Ali is reporting that Reed Elsevier intends to sell its $1.76 billion Reed Business Information unit to reduce "exposure to advertising markets and cyclicality."

Interestingly, the company intends to keep its Reed Exhibitions unit, which is also a cyclical business--though that cycle has been riding high for some time--and which really doesn't fit with the company's purported focus on "subscription-based information and workflow solutions."

In my limited experience, RBI and Reed Exhibitions were the ultimate models for the dangers of b2b "siloization." The two companies worked together only fitfully, and often, I'm told, found it easier to do business and partnerships with outside firms (and competitors) than with themselves. In an era driven by the integrated media solution buzz-phrase, Reed did a less-than-stellar job integrating its print, online and trade show/conference solutions, and I'm sure they left business and profits on the table.

But given the complete separation of the business units, it should be easy to split RBI off, leaving a new buyer with the opportunity (and need) to add trade show properties in order to offer a complete media solution. And perhaps this represents an opportunity for Reed Exhibitions to broaden its media offerings online and--dare I say?--in print, to better serve its customers.

Disclosure: GRID Media did some consulting work for Reed Exhibitions a few years ago, completely unrelated to any issues of integrated media solutions.

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