Directories business Yell – until last week a subsidiary of British Telecom – is on the prowl for rival companies in the US and Europe as potential acquisitions.

Yell intends to consolidate the highly fragmented telephone directory market and has set its sights on a number of possible targets. One such business is the VNU World Directories unit of Dutch publisher and market research group VNU, which Yell is believed to have approached, although the duo are not thought to be near a deal.

Most directories are still owned by telecoms operators - a situation set to change, as many European telecoms businesses seek to reduce crippling debts by offloading non-core assets.

BT sold Yell to a management team backed by Apax Partners and Hicks Muse Tate & Furst in order to pay off some of the £28 billion it owes [WAMN: 29-May-01]. In a similar move, Dutch phone company KPN – with debts of around E22bn – announced Friday that it wants to sell its directories unit.

News source: Financial Times