Icarus Hand Pays Price of American Adventure

29 May 2001

Kevin Hand, the high-flying chief executive of UK media giant Emap whose wings were badly singed by the solar effect of US publishing group Peterson [WAMN: 14-Feb-01], has resigned as predicted three months ago.

His exit coincides with today’s release of Emap’s annual accounts for the year to March 31. Pre-tax profit rose 5% to £197m before a £50m digital investment and exceptional items, while total revenues increased to £1.153 billion – a result substantially ahead of analysts’ consensus forecast of £130m-140m.

But the entrail-rakers estimate that Emap USA has lost £545m in value since the purchase and after three years Nemesis has finally overtaken Hand. He was appointed chief executive of the Emap group in 1997 after his spectacular turnround of its ailing French operations.

In 1998, his Stateside ambitions drove the $1.2 billion (£720m) acquisition of Peterson whose fortunes then progressively declined. Emap intends to cut its losses and Peterson will shortly be put up for sale – a move that could incur an exceptional charge of £500m.

Hand is replaced by Emap’s group’s former chief executive, current non-executive chairman, Robin Millar. The chair, in turn, goes to Adam Broadbent.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)