For Sale: Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Others

Adrian Versteegh

Citing a rocky advertising market, Reed Business Information (RBI) announced plans yesterday to sell off nearly fifty of its U.S. trade publications, including Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and School Library Journal. The news followed a second-quarter report showing that profits at RBI’s parent company, London-based publishing conglomerate Reed Elsevier, dropped 48 percent during the first half of 2009.

RBI Global CEO Keith Jones said the divestment was part of a strategy to concentrate the company’s “efforts and investments on a narrower range of brands and markets.” “We have had to contend with a far harsher advertising environment than any of us have experienced before,” he said in a statement, “and, in such a climate, we have to focus not just on innovation and efficiency, but also on ensuring that our portfolio is well-matched with our long-term ambitions.”

This marks the second time in a year that Reed has put its U.S. trade magazine arm on the block. Last December, plans for a sale fell through when bids came in at only about half the two billion dollar asking price.

Yesterday’s announcement also revealed that Tad Smith, CEO of RBI’s U.S. division since 2005, is resigning “to pursue a new job challenge.” Chief financial officer John Poulin has been appointed acting CEO.