The RBI-US Garage Sale

Reed Elsevier has been trying to sell their Reed Business Information division for well over a year now, with no takers. Plan B, it appears, is to retain the most valuable publications in the portfolio as part of parent Reed Elsevier and dump the rest on whoever will buy them piecemeal and failing that I suspect they will simply shut them down.

Having completed our portfolio review, we have decided to focus our efforts and investments on a narrower range of brands and markets, and with this in mind we are announcing today our intention to divest a significant part of the RBI US business.

While we will be retaining Reed Construction Data US & Canada, RS Means, Variety, Marketcast, LA411 and Buyerzone within RBI – these are businesses that fit well with our plans and they are leading brands in their markets – we are announcing today our intention to sell all the other publications and services in RBI US, as well as their related titles and services in Asia.

[From Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily ยป Behind-The-Scenes Of RBI-U.S. Fire Sale]

RBI is focused on B2B publications in many verticals, I think they had as of last year over 120 publications in that division representing markets as diverse as farming to financial services to the entertainment industry. Their situation underscores the degree to which B2B media has been devastated by the internet, with readers and advertisers all fleeing publications that were once staples of every business category.

What is the solution? For one, moving to more of a data service model instead of publication seems to be working for groups like McGraw Hill Construction and Dow Jones, but beyond that I am not sure what the recipe for success is. Clearly expense control is a major strategic focus, and when the economy rebounds a renewed focus on events and other services aimed at matching vendors with customers. The traditional analyst firm model seems outdated as well, so perhaps a merger of the two related segments is in order.

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