New focus boosts Reed Elsevier

BRITAIN’S biggest media group Reed Elsevier has reported a 25 per cent rise in profit before tax as the company aims to reduce its reliance on advertising.

The events and business publishing firm, which has been selling off its trade publications for some years and focusing on subscription businesses such as research tool LexisNexis, also said it would initiate a £300m share buyback following a series of disposals.

Reed Elsevier has recently sold Hollywood magazine Variety as well as its employee screening business. Their sales followed dozens of disposals in the past two years, including magazines such as Publishers Weekly and Broadcasting & Cable.

Reed Elsevier’s chief executive Erik Engstrom said the FTSE 100 company’s print business now makes up around a fifth of revenues, with the remaining 80 per cent – the online and events business – growing at around five to seven per cent a year.

“Although the outlook for the macro environment, and its impact on our customer markets, is mixed, we have entered 2013 with positive momentum,” Engstrom said.

Shares rose as annual operating profits, which stripped out one-off effects such as sales, rose six per cent to £1.7bn.