Hand steps down as Emap chief

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

Emap's performance.

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

since 1997.

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

as FHM.

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."