A survey of UK magazine companies unveiled yesterday by The Van Tulleken Company paints a picture of publishers at bay as they prepare for an onslaught of consolidation within the industry.

Some industry cynics, however, question the extent to which that picture may be coloured by Van Tulken’s stock-in-trade: that of consultant to media owners on merger and acquisition strategy.

In all, three hundred companies - most with sales exceeding £10 million annually, all members of the Periodical Publishers’ Association and a cross-section of business, consumer and contract publishing - were invited to participate in the study. Thirty per cent did so.

Van Tulleken reports that of the 85 chief executives sampled, 26% thought their companies would be taken over within the next five years and 18% believed they would merge with another company. Forty per cent saw themselves as acquirers rather than the acquired.

Enthusiasm ran high for a strategic alliance or trading partnership with a web business - only 4% ruling this out completely and 84% saying that they would enter into such a deal. But few expected the deals to realise much profit in the short term, and only a handful believe that internet revenues are likely to increase significantly within the next two years. Most use the web primarily as a marketing tool.

Said TVTC boss Kit Van Tulleken: "They do expect it [the internet] to add value to their business but they won't just throw money at it."

News source: Financial Times