Emap's group chief executive Kevin Hand, has abruptly quit his post
at the publisher.
The dramatic announcement ends months of mounting speculation over
whether Hand's position at Emap remained tenable. The publisher's chief
had publicly carried the can for the disastrous acquisition of the
American magazine group Peterson, which has acted as a crippling drag to
Hand is replaced by the former non-executive chairman Robin Miller, who
Emap predicted would remain in the post for the next two years. Miller's
appointment will scotch rumours that the former ITV chief executive,
Richard Eyre, would be drafted in to replace Hand. Miller is replaced as
the chairman by Adam Broadbent, a non-executive director of the company
Hand authorised a payment of pounds 850 million for Peterson, which
publishes US titles such as Guns and Ammo. Analysts predicted that the
price would prove to be too generous. Their caution has been validated
by Emap's announcement, concurrent with Hand's departure, that it has
made a pounds 545 million write-down on the investment. The company
continues to seek a buyer for the Peterson assets but is expected to
continue publishing US versions of its successful British titles, such
Emap's preliminary results for the year to March 2001 were released
alongside the announcement of Hand's departure. The company made a
pre-tax loss of pounds 527 million, but when the Petersen write off and
digital investments are removed, Emap can point to a 5 per cent increase
in pre-tax profit to pounds 197 million.
Emap UK delivered a 7 per cent rise in profits to pounds 166 million and
a 6 per cent climb in revenue to pounds 619 million. Emap France posted
an 8 per cent growth in profits to pounds 40 million.
"Despite the major organisational changes over the past 12 months, the
achievement of strong double-digit underlying profits in the UK and
France shows the strength of our core businesses," Miller said. "It is
well known that we are reviewing the future of our US business and we
expect to make a final announcement on this in the near future."