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Reed Elsevier Targets The Internet
Jean Richardson -- 3/13/00

Despite disappointing results for 1999, with turnover up by 5% to £3.39 billion but pretax profits down by 9% to £710 million, the Anglo-Dutch media group Reed Elsevier issued a firm commitment to achieving global leadership in the legal, scientific and business-to-business markets.

Announcing the latest figures, newly appointed chief executive Crispin Davis said that underlying growth had been held back by the competitive environment at Lexis-Nexis, by market conditions in key sectors at Cahners and by management issues. In the scientific sector, turnover and profits were up by 5%, but journal subscriptions had been adversely affected by reduced library budgets in Europe and Japan. Although turnover in the legal sector increased by 13%, profits were down by 4%, in spite of strong performances by the legal-publishing businesses in the U.K. and France. Turnover in the business sector was up by 2%, but profits fell by 9%, continuing the downturn of the previous year.

Looking on the bright side, however, Davis outlined an upbeat strategy that included a major investment of £750 million ($1.2 billion) over the next three years, of which more than 90% will be Internet related. The company will also be divesting companies that do not fit in with the new group strategy; in addition, plans are being made for more effective marketing and sales programs and aggressive cost-saving.

Emphasizing the strong new platform for growth, Davis said, "Reed Elsevier has powerful and valuable assets: leading brands and market positions, high-quality and in-depth content, scale, professional people and financial strength."

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