Issue: Economy, Competition, Acquisitions, Closures Affect Results
News: In Europe, 2002 was a decidedly mixed year for Yellow Pages publishers. In general, the large incumbent publishers held up better than their American counterparts in the economic downturn. But the directory business was hardly immune to economic struggles. Some publishers also saw results negatively affected by labor unrest (VNU in Belgium) and competitive forays gone bad (Eniro in Germany).
Europe has also not yet seen the end of the wave of telecom spin-offs of directory operations. Telecom Italia, the majority owner of directory publisher SEAT Pagine Gialle, confirmed last week after weeks of speculation that it will spin off the directory portion of the SEAT business, while hanging on to the Internet-related units. Like other telecoms in Europe and North America, Telecom Italia has decided directories are "not strategic" and are electing to cash in while the assets are still perceived to be valuable. Among the companies believed to be interested in acquiring SEAT PG is the Spanish publisher Telefonica Publicidad e Informacion (TPI).
This Advisory offers a summary of 2002 results from many of the leading European directory organizations. More detailed breakdowns of the history, strategy, financials and operational details of the European publishers (as well as publishers worldwide) will be presented and analyzed in "Global Yellow Pages 2003: The Kelsey Group's Outlook and Forecast," a stand-alone report due out early in the second quarter.