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Reed share placing to be unveiled

BUSINESS and scientific magazine publisher Reed Elsevier is today expected to announce plans for a huge rights issue, as it attempts to reduce its $8.3bn (&pound;5.1bn) debt-pile.<br /><br />The Anglo-Dutch company&rsquo;s new chief executive, Ian Smith, will unveil plans to raise up to 10 per cent of its value through a share placing, as he announces the firm&rsquo;s interim results.<br /><br />The New Scientist publisher has a market capitalistation of &pound;5.2bn in the UK and around &pound;5bn in the Netherlands.<br /><br />Reed had been planning to pay down some of its debt through the sale of its Reed Business Information (RBI) division, but was forced to abandon the sale of RBI just before Christmas when it could not get the price it wanted in a worsening market. It is understood that new boss Smith is reluctant to restart the sale of what he sees as a core asset.<br /><br />Earlier this year, Reed agreed a new $2bn (&pound;1.4bn) debt facility with its syndicate of 19 banks &ndash; including Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS &ndash; to replace its existing $3bn agreement which expires in May 2010.<br /><br />Reed last night refused to comment on the rights issue.