LONDON: Global publishing and information provider Reed Elsevier says the vagaries of the advertising climate have triggered its decision to seek a buyer for its trade publications division.

Reed Business Information, whose international stable includes Computer Weekly, New Scientist, Variety and countless websites, is expected to attract bids of around £1.25 billion ($2.45bn; £1.65bn).

The holding group's ceo, Sir Crispin Davis (pictured above), says the unit is growing too slowly and is too reliant on advertising revenues.

He adds: "There is strong interest in the Reed information business. We will explore all options for an outright sale and we will see where we come out."

Davis acknowledged the current turmoil in the credit markets might prolong the sale process, but said the company was not in a hurry and was not yet in talks with any potential buyers:  "We are very open-minded on who and when."

The spinoff is the next phase in Reed Elsevier's shift toward the online information business, including the build-up of its LexisNexis database for lawyers, bankers, accountants and academics.

To this end it has announced the $3.5bn acquisition of US risk-management business ChoicePoint, a leader in providing data and analysis to the insurance sector. Activities include identifying insurance, healthcare and credit card fraud, and employee screening.

  • Meantime, Reed Elsevier posted net profit for 2007 of £1.2bn, up from £623 million in the previous year, driven by the sale of its publishing unit Harcourt. Revenue rose 1.7% to £4.58bn.
  • Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff