RBI profits down 35% in 2009

Profits at Reed Business Information - which includes UK magazine brands such as Farmers Weekly, New

Adjusted operating profit of the business magazine publisher fell to £89m in 2009 from the £126m it made the previous year, which translated into a 35 per cent drop in consistent currencies - once differences between profits made in various countries were taken into account.

Revenue at RBI dropped to £891m last year from the £987m it made in the previous year, a fall of 18 per cent in consistent currencies, as a depressed advertising market impacted its ability to generate funds.

The business publisher contributed six per cent of the total profits that parent group Reed Elsevier announced today.

Overall, Reed Elsevier's adjusted operating profit rose to £1.57bn from £1.38bn made in 2008, with revenue climbing to £6.08bn last year from £5.33bn the previous year.

Reed Elsevier has, in recent weeks, been in talks to offload dozens of magazines from RBI's US operation. It revealed last month that it intended to sell its US trade titles in a piecemeal fashion.

The parent company has steadily been disposing of RBI titles across the globe following the appointment of Erik Engstrom as chief executive last year, he replaced Ian Smith who resigned in November after less than a year in the role.

In January, RBI sold its UK Cosmetics News Weekly title to rival Communications International Group for an undisclosed sum. In July, it sold its UK travel portfolio - including Travel Weekly magazine - to the entrepreneur behind Holiday Autos, Clive Jacobs.

And in November it closed the 130 year-old weekly magazine for the UK construction industry, Contract Journal.

Reed Elsevier said today that its core professional information revenues "held up relatively well" in 2009. Elsevier, which generates 44 per cent of overall profits, saw its own operating profits increase nine per cent to £693m.

LexisNexis generated 42 per cent of overall profits as its adjusted operating profit rose by 13 per cent to £665m helped by strong revenue generated by ChoicePoint, a recently-acquired data service provider to the US insurance industry.

Gains here helped offset falls at RBO and in Reed's exhibitions business.

Costs were reduced by £227m last year, the company said, thanks to the ongoing restructuring of the business.