Reed Elsevier plans to change its name to RELX Group and to simplify its corporate structure by combining the assets below its UK and Dutch parent companies into a single group entity for the first time.
The FTSE 100 group announced the move on Thursday alongside full-year results for 2014, which showed underlying revenues up 3 per cent at £5.77bn but a 14 per cent fall in net profit to £995m.
Erik Engstrom, chief executive, said the company had chosen a “shorter and more modern name” to reflect the company’s transformation in recent years from a publishing group to a “technology, content and analytics driven business”.
There will not be any brand or name changes for any of the company’s business units, which include Elsevier, the world’s largest publisher of scientific journals, or Reed Exhibitions, the world’s largest events business.
Reed Elsevier comprises two separate parent companies, listed in London and Amsterdam. As of Wednesday, ownership of all Reed Elsevier businesses below those parent companies was transferred to one new single group entity.
To further simplify its corporate structure, Reed Elsevier has also proposed to eliminate the cross-shareholding between the two parent companies. The group is seeking to “increase share price transparency” by moving the share equalisation ratio between the two parent companies to 1:1, so that all share listings will have identical ownership rights. At present, each Dutch share is worth 1.538 UK shares.
Ian Whittaker, media analyst at Liberum Capital, said the simplification of the corporate structure “will make Reed easier to understand and, therefore, should help the investment case”.
Reed Elsevier said the changes were “cost and profit neutral” and the structure would be fully implemented on July 1, subject to shareholder approval.
The company reported that underlying adjusted operating profits, its preferred measure of profits, grew 5 per cent to £1.74bn. Both the profit and revenue figures were slightly below analysts’ expectations, however, and the shares fell 3.5 per cent in early London trading to £11.45.
David Reynolds, analyst at Jefferies, said the group had a “somewhat lukewarm finish to the year”.
Reed Elsevier, which completed £600m of buybacks in 2014, said it planned a further £500m in 2015. The company proposed a 6 per cent increase in its full year dividend to 26.0p for Reed Elsevier PLC, and a 16 per cent rise to €0.589 for Reed Elsevier NV.
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