Buying a stake in Emap has substantially reduced Guardian Media Group‘s reliance on print-based revenue.
GMG chief executive Carolyn McCall told the PPA business publishing conference today that Emap Communications was an attractive buy for the company because 60 per cent of its revenues were from information services and events.
GMG bought Emap’s business to business publishing arm in December in a joint venture with private equity company Apax.
Since the acquisition, she said that GMG’s reliance on print for revenue had gone down from 85 to 65 per cent.
But McCall said that this did not mean GMG would cut back funding for print products to invest in others.
“You can get very down on print but should realise the brand value, the brand equity in print.”
She highlighted World Global Style Network, which forecasts fashion trends and delivers news for designers and buyers, as a model brand because of the way it has become an integrated part of the clothes business and a tool that fashion industry workers found necessary to help do their job.
WGSN is currently the biggest brand in terms of revenue in the old Emap group.
McCall also tackled the suggestion that “an unholy alliance” had been formed between GMG and the private equity firm Apax, compromising the liberal values which underpin GMG’s owner the Scott Trust.
She said the survival of the Guardian and its journalism was crucial to what the company has done. She added: “GMG is here to sustain liberal journalism but at its heart it is a very large and commercial business.”
Meanwhile, Apax indicated today that Emap Communications will remain a stand-alone business.
Apax partner Stephen Grabiner said today that Emap would remain distinct – although he did not rule out some elements of it working more closely with GMG or Incisive.
He said: ‘We have a rule that you never force two businesses to work together. What you do is ask management teams to talk to each other and if they think it has merits to do something with each other then they do that.”
He added: “Financially, on paper, does it make sense to try and put all businesses together? Probably. Are there a wide range of stakeholders excluding Apax who need to be involved in this? Absolutely.”