The past year has been something of an annus horribilis for
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
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
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
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
It's bloody difficult and the market is tough, but it will come," Keenan
The likelihood is that Keenan's recent learning curve will come in
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
Local Government Chronicle, reporter then editor
Emap Maclaren, publisher
Emap Fashion, managing director
Emap Elan, executive publishing director
Emap Elan, managing director
Emap Digital, executive director
Emap Consumer Media, chief executive