RBI’s UK travel sale raises question about future ownership of Aussie operation

The starting gun may have been fired on what could become a break-up of the global Reed Business Information empire, which includes several publications and websites in Australia.

RBI has agreed to sell its UK travel titles including Travel Weekly and Travolution to a team that will include the former Australian publisher Colin Morrison ,who headed up the UK joint venture between ACP and NatMags. Morrison is a former chairman of Magazine Publishers of Australia.  

Reed Business Information is part of Reed Elsevier. Its Australian operation includes a local edition of Travel Weekly, Australian Doctor, B&T, Money management and the Australian edition of New Scientist.

Reed Elsevier went through a protracted process of trying to sell RBI as a single global deal. It resisted attempts by various publishers to cherrypick individual parts of the company.

But the sale was eventually called off late last year as the global downturn pushed down the price and scared off potential purchasers.

At the time, Reed Elsevier insisted that it still wanted to make a single sale, in the medium term. Up to now, there have been no major disposals of RBI titles anywhere onm the globe.

However, the sale of the UK travel division – to entrepeneur Clive Jacobs – suggests that individual assets might now be put onto the table.

In the UK, RBI publishes titles such as Flight International, Farmers Weekly, Computer Weekly, Personnel Today, Contract Journal and Community Care. And its most famous US title is Variety magazine.

(Note: The writer of this piece has been employed by RBI at various times in the UK and Australia.)


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