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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]



Feb 28 2006
Telefonica May Sell TPI
Spanish telecom Telefonica may be ready to sell its 59.9 percent stake in the directory publisher Telefonica Publicidad e Informacion. One of TPI's apparent suitors is Apax Group, which is a former part owner of Britain's Yell Group, along with Hicks Muse.

You can read about the possible sale here and here.

TPI has a leadership position in directories in Spain, along with a strong position in South America, virtually owning the market in Peru and Chile, with solid positions in Brazil and Argentina. The company also has a growing competitive DA business in Italy.


Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  17:16 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 22 2006
We're No. 2?
If you just read the headline from each of the companies reporting on the new national syndication research results, you could be excused if you thought that a lot of companies are the most used Yellow Pages directories. Some companies are taking the results from a few cities and seem to be implying that they are the national leaders. We are concerned that this is a slippery slope.

Who is No. 1 among cola beverages? If you ask that question in Texas, the answer would be Dr. Pepper. If you exclude fountain sales, Pepsi sells the most nationwide. But overall, Coke is the leader. Frankly, I don't really care. I drink the cola beverage that I prefer.

In the automotive category, General Motors says Chevrolet was the top-selling brand in the U.S. last year, but Ford disagrees. Ford bases its leadership claim on third-party data compiled by auto research firm R.L. Polk. Unlike Coke and Pepsi, which combined have over 90 percent of the cola market share, Ford and Chevrolet face a significant challenger in Toyota, whose brand is closing the gap, particularly when bulk sales of vehicles to fleets aren't counted.

A medium is a different animal than a beverage or a car, but the ability to show your publication as the leader in a particular market, especially on a cost-per-use basis, can be a valuable tool. If syndicated research is here to stay, and The Kelsey Group hopes it will be because it supports our ROI story, we need to have standards that everyone who participates agrees to.

If the Yellow Pages industry wants the credibility that syndicated research gives it, headlines and claims must be reasonable. I am not suggesting that any company has not told the truth in its press releases, but it is most important that the perception by advertisers reflect reality in the particular markets in which they are trying to reach their users. Otherwise, syndicated research won't be taken seriously.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  John Kelsey at  16:32 | permalink | comments [5] | trackbacks [3]



Feb 22 2006
YPG Looking South?
Interesting story in yesterday's National Post (Canada). The topic is not entirely new, the possible acquisition of a U.S. publisher by Canada's Yellow Pages Group. The article does provide a sourced comment from YPG's CFO, and it offers some detailed speculation of what YPG migth consider buying � namely choice pieces of Verizon Information Services (which is on the record as being a pending spin-off) and/or AT&T Yellow Pages (which is not). It's clear that any existing Yellow Pages player buying either company outright would be biting off way more than it could chew.

You can read the National Post article here.

The article is yet another sign of what we expect to see in the next few years, which is the final de-linking of Yellow Pages from telecoms in the United States.

Ownership of directories in the U.S. is becoming the bastion of private equities and strategic players (i.e., other publishers and media companies). This raises all kinds of interesting scenarios involving cross-media combinations and perhaps some very strange bedfellows.

The rationale for a telecom keeping a publisher comes down to one thing � cash. Do they need it all right now, or would they rather keep getting it a little bit at a time?
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  10:04 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 15 2006
Eniro to Launch Dedicated Internet Sales
Listened to Eniro's 2005 earnings call yesterday. A number of interesting details, which we will explore in Local Media Journal next week.

One key revelation was that print revenues in Norway are going to decline by 10 percent in 2006. Eniro just acquired Findexa, Norway's leading publisher, and this revelation generated a lot of questions on the call about the extent of Eniro's visibility into Findexa's challenges when it bought the company. Eniro's stock was down almost 13 percent yesterday. Today it is trading about 1 percent lower.

Another notable detail is that Eniro is moving to a dedicated online sales force in Sweden. One reason Eniro CEO Tomas Franzen cited was that the publisher needed to get out of the cycle of selling online advertising based on a print publishing cycle. We are going to write about evolutions in online selling practices in an upcoming Advisory from The Kelsey Report.

Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  10:39 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]





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