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Mar 13 2006
Yell Pursuing TPI
A Reuters report today reveals that Britain's Yell Group has taken formal steps toward submitting a bid for the 60 percent stake in the Spanish publisher Telefonica Publicidad e Informacion currently owned by Telefonica. Yell has retained Goldman Sachs to advise it on the potential bid. You can read the Reuters item here.

If this takes place, it would be a departure for Yell, which has focused all of its acquisition energy and capital on enlarging its U.S. directory business, Yellow Book. However, Yell has in the past indicated a willingness to look at deals on the European continent as well.

TPI is also expected to attract bids from private equities, which have not lost their fervor for directory deals. Less clear is the degree to which France's PagesJaunes is interested in the deal.

TPI, which reported 2005 group revenues of 654 million euros, is the leading publisher in Spain with directory operations in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Puru, and a competitive DA operation in Italy.

Yell is the market leader in the U.K. and the largest independent publisher in the United States. It also contends with a rate cap in the U.K. that does not appear to be going away any time soon. This may help explain its interest in finding new acquisition targets.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  11:42 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 9 2006
Notes and Observations From ADM
Yesterday, I attended the ADM regional meeting held here in Chicago, where I maintain the Midwest regional office for The Kelsey Group (which consists of me, a computer, phone and a tiny fridge filled with Diet Cokes).

The ADM is in the midst of a road show, which it does every year to update national YP agencies (CMRs) on what is happening in the directory business, particularly issues affecting national advertisers. These issues are many, and many seem never to go away (national surcharges and directory extensions, to offer just two examples).

Of particular interest was a presentation by Burt Michaels of Knowledge Networks/SRI on the new Yellow Pages Market Reporter. Burt offered some detail on what the current syndicated usage measurement service offers, and what it says about what's happening in local markets. Burt was pitching (in a low-key manner) CMRs to buy the research (13 have to date) and if they have it, to dive deeper into the data with custom reports.

Burt was understandably reluctant to offer too much detail on how share breakdowns occur in local markets, though he did share data on Manhattan that had already been widely disclosed. His overarching comment says a lot about where the print directory business is today.

"Audience fragmentation is a reality that you are going to have to deal with."

While there was an initial wave of dueling press releases on the usage data, what is emerging is the picture Burt lays out. In most markets, audience is spread among two or three or more products. Not always evenly, and as Burt notes, the nature of the audiences isn't always the same. But one-book buys are probably a thing of the past in most U.S. directory markets.

One apparently touchy point is the fact that just 13 CMRs have bought the research. One questioner at the meeting raised this issue, and the ADM responded by noting the 13 represent 60 percent of national sales. Nonetheless, the question (from a publisher I believe), shows some frustration among publishers that CMRs need to step up more and buy the data they have been asking publishers to produce for several years now. In fairness, most if not all of the most vocal CMRs have already bought the research.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  17:17 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 7 2006
More National Consolidation
Looks like two of the largest self storage companies � Public Storage and Shurgard � will be combining forces. Public Storage announced that it will be buying Shurgard for US$3 billion. The combined company will have 2,100 locations in 38 states. This combination will put additional pressure on the national Yellow Pages sector as the combined company will have additional leverage to allocate an estimated US$20 million in print Yellow Pages spending.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Neal Polachek at  14:17 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 6 2006
Verizon Enters Nashville
Charles Laughlin pointed out an article from the Nashville Business Times about Verizon's entry into that market. Kathy Harless identified Nashville as one of the expansion markets at DDC '05 in her keynote address. Here is the article.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Neal Polachek at  13:08 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]



Mar 5 2006
TPI Suitors Line Up
A long list of potential suitors for Telefonica Publicidad e Informacion has emerged that invokes Claude Raines from "Casablanca": "Round up the usual suspects !" The parade of private equities whose names are listed among those at least interested in the deal includes many that have been associated with other past deals as buyers or also-rans � CVC Capital, the Blackstone Group, the Carlyle Group and so on.

Currently Telefonica, Spain's leading telecom, owns a 60 percent stake in TPI. Telefonica, surprise, wants to offload its majority shares in TPI to reduce debt.

Also reported to be interested are France Telecom (which is the majority owner of publicly traded PagesJaunes), and Yell Group, working in concert with the private equity Apax Partners (a former part owner of Yell). Those would lead to some interested pan-European combinations.

TPI, a public company, is the dominant directory player in Spain, with a large and growing presence in directories in Latin America. It also recently launched a competitive DA business in Italy.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  16:05 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]



Mar 5 2006
AT&T + BellSouth = US$5.8B Publisher
The story is all over the financial press today that AT&T will acquire BellSouth for US$67 billion. Based on 2005 revenues, the combined Yellow Pages divisions of the two companies will have total revenues of about US$5.8 billion. I'd say this will make it the world's largest directory publisher, but that was already true of AT&T's US$3.7 billion Yellow Pages division. The newly enlarged publishing unit will be the incumbent publisher in 21 states.

This deal is not exactly a surprise, since it was widely reported that SBC (before it acquired AT&T and adopted its name) made a run at BellSouth before it pursued the AT&T deal. And AT&T and BellSouth's Yellow Pages operations already jointly own YellowPages.com, a deal that led to much speculation that it was a precursor to a combined Yellow Pages operation. Well, that now appears to have happened, even if Yellow Pages was not a driving force in the transaction.

We will have a lot more to say about this deal in this week's Local Media Journal. This is a big one.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  15:53 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [1]



Mar 5 2006
AT&T to Buy BellSouth
According to a story in today's New York Times AT&T (formerly SBC) is near a deal to acquire BellSouth:

AT&T is expected to pay about $65 billion for BellSouth, the country's third largest phone company, which operates in a nine-state region in the Southeast. The price represents a 25 percent to 30 percent premium for BellSouth shareholders.

The Times is reporting that a deal may be announced as early as Monday. The combination would create (recreate) a communications giant with combined estimated Yellow Pages revenues of roughly $5.6 billion and approximately 3,800 sales representatives. Both AT&T and BellSouth have DSL partnerships with Yahoo! (both also have IPTV initiatives). AT&T has a market cap of $91 billion, while BellSouth is worth approximately $56 billion today.

There were numerous rumors of earlier, failed discussions between the two companies. And there has been considerable speculation in the recent past that the two companies would combine and spin off their directory divisions at some point in the future. It's not clear to me whether this deal, if it were to happen, would make that more or less likely. (My colleague Charles Laughlin would have a more nuanced perspective on that issue. However, telco parents have sold directory assets to pay down debt in many instances in the past.)

The Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd), says:

AT&T is targeting at least $2 billion in cost savings in BellSouth deal, said a person familiar with the matter Sunday ... The total equity value of the deal is at least $65 billion, plus the assumption of an additional $17 billion of BellSouth debt.

The two companies have a parternship in the newly re-energized YellowPages.com (and Cingular, to become AT&T wireless). And I could imagine a combined company becoming more active and making some intreresting online acquisitions to better position itself on the Internet. In fact I could imagine a fairly major acquisition in the search space.

We'll go into all aspects of the transaction, including the competitive implications, if it's confirmed, later this week.

________

More from Reuters, MarketWatch, USAToday and many others. Here's another N.Y. Times piece (reg. req'd) that has a great deal more detail and some additional features.

Thus far in my "career" as a blogger I have resisted the urge to use the term "grok." But now I break that solemn vow with: Om "groks" the deal.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog , Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  12:36 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [26]



Mar 3 2006
Legal Category: Cause for Concern?
As I was doing some research on attorney spending online I stumbled across this blog on legal advertising, which basically argues with some anecdotal evidence that the print directory is delivering less value to lawyer-advertisers today than it has in the past:

I get calls every week from lawyers saying they�re not getting calls anymore from yellow page advertising. They don�t want to continue wasting their money, but they�re afraid to stop advertising and lose their spot. They want to know what�s going on and what to do.

I have no idea whether this blog is truly reflective of the feelings of lawyers generally or has any influence in the legal community. But the sentiments should be noted and are a cause for concern because lawyers spend more than $1 billion annually on print Yellow Pages and legal is, in fact, the top revenue category (lawyers-attorneys is the sixth most popular consumer category).
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  19:12 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]





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