MEDIA: HEADLINER - Keenan is ready to reassure the City about Emap's future. Growth will be essential to Paul Keenan's continuing rise, Pippa Considine says

The past year has been something of an annus horribilis for

Emap.



The publishing company, which bloomed throughout the 80s and 90s, hit

troubled times as it came through the millennium. First, its investment

in the US publishing company Petersen is now about to be sold for £366 million, less than half of the £750 million Emap paid out for

it in 1999.



Much of its internet investment has also been halted, with investment

scaled down from £250 million over three years to £100

million.



The City is now looking to the management to give it renewed faith in

the Emap brand. Meanwhile, Emap's main rival, IPC Media, has been

acquired by AOL Time Warner and, with that extra muscle in the

marketplace, there is added pressure on Emap.



It seems that the creation of an umbrella division, Emap Consumer Media,

is at least partly intended as a show of force. The head of this new

division, Paul Keenan, must prove himself a heavyweight to convince the

moneymen that Emap can come out fighting.



Keenan is clear that he has been appointed to oversee growth. "My role

is to work with teams and through teams to accelerate growth

opportunities," he says. His first, second and third priorities are all

growth. The company has already earmarked £23 million to invest in

magazines this year and one launch into the men's magazine market -

project Floyd - has been reported to be close to coming to market.



Keenan, whose appointment to the board was only announced last week,

isn't yet revealing more details, but he does say that the company will

build in areas "where we've got size". His own remit will include the

Emap Elan network, Emap Automotive, Emap Active, FHM International and

Emap Australia.



It does not, however, include Emap Performance, where the chief

executive, Tim Schoonmaker, oversees the group's radio stations and

music titles and cross promotion between different platforms for Emap's

music properties. Nor will Keenan look after French titles, where the

chief executive for Emap France, Arnaud de Puyfontaine, remains in sole

charge.



Both Schoonmaker and de Puyfontaine are on the restructured board along

with Keenan, the chief executive of Emap Communications, Derek Carter,

the chief operating officer of Emap Plc, Tom Moloney (recently back from

the US), the finance director, Gary Hughes, and the group chief

executive, Robin Miller.



Miller returned from two years as the non-executive chairman of Emap to

take back the executive helm after Kevin Hand left in May following the

US debacle. Miller's decision to dispose of the US business at a lower

price than anyone had previously estimated has attracted criticism.



But it's a clear move, as is the series of cuts in digital. Indeed there

were rumours that the head of digital might go the same way as Hand. So

who was that man? Stand up Keenan.



Keenan's elevation is, however, not at all surprising to those who know

him and the upper echelons at Emap. He impressed Moloney and Miller

early on and his rise to managing director of Emap Elan in 1998 at the

age of 34 is part of a continued faith in his talent.



At the time Keenan had a reputation for being so laid back that he

seemed in danger of sliding down the back of his chair. Since then he

has spent 15 months at Emap Digital, where life has been one big rush.

First, caught up in the heady atmosphere surrounding the internet and

then having to deal with cutting websites, which involved getting rid of

100 or so people.



"I spent 15 months when I had to get used to living with a high level of

uncertainty. You need to be fast on your feet," he says.



Keenan doesn't see himself as having parted from the digital "division":

"I haven't left it. I will continue to stay involved."



Given that Emap is focusing on sites which play to the company's

traditional areas of strength, this attitude makes sense. "Don't write

digital off.



It's bloody difficult and the market is tough, but it will come," Keenan

says.



The likelihood is that Keenan's recent learning curve will come in

handy.



With current uncertainties over the state of advertising revenues he may

need to make some difficult decisions early on in his new role. He will

certainly have to show that he can square up to the reinforced IPC to

bring back some of the company's former lustre.



THE KEENAN FILE

1986

Local Government Chronicle, reporter then editor

1992

Emap Maclaren, publisher

1995

Emap Fashion, managing director

1997

Emap Elan, executive publishing director

1998

Emap Elan, managing director

2000

Emap Digital, executive director

2001

Emap Consumer Media, chief executive



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