Announcing the interim results for the first six months of this year, Morris Tabaksblat, chairman of the Anglo-Dutch group Reed Elsevier, admitted that the business had not done well. While turnover was up 8% to £1.7 billion ($2.75 billion), operating profit before tax was down 10% to £371 million, underlining the urgent need for better focus and improved leadership.

The latter will hopefully be remedied by the recent appointment of Crispin Davis as the new CEO. Over the coming months, he and his board will be reviewing the strategies of each of the businesses and of the group. Revenue growth has been particularly disappointing in Lexis-Nexis, the company's U.S. legal information service, whose operating profits were down 17%, and in the business sector, where Cahners Business Information operating profits fell by 45%. News of the poor results sent shares on the London stock market tumbling to the lowest point in four years.