Emap Set For ‘Fresh Start’ Under Current Ownership As CEO Leaves

B2B publisher Emap’s CEO David Gilbertson is leaving after three years, with a trajectory for selling it now seemingly farther away.

“Recession has extended the likely period of private equity ownership for the business, making this an opportune moment for new leadership to take the company on to its next phase,” Gilbertson said in his announcement.

Guardian Media Group (GMG) and private equity firm Apax jointly own both Emap and Trader Media Group as investment assets. GMG has always intended to sell its stakes at some point in the future, giving it a windfall to help it sustain Guardian News & Media.

Gilbertson’s rationale may suggest the pair may have wanted to sell Emap around now but, after the economic downturn hit media M&A valuations, have deferred such an event until a hoped-for, fuller recovery.

“As we now emerge from recession, the business is embarking on what is effectively a fresh start on a new growth path,” Gilbertson said in email to staff. “This year, we expect to see year-on-year profit growth for the first time since the business was acquired and we are on target to achieve that.

“This then provides an opportune moment for new leadership to come in to take Emap on into the next chapter of its development over the next five years.”

The interesting “five-year” period for this strategy could suggest Apax and GMG wait for that long before taking their windfall.

Gilbertson’s tenure has been settling Emap as a more sustainable B2B business, following the earlier sale of its consumer business to Bauer Media. But there is not yet a replacement CEO in place. CFO Martyn Hindley takes interim charge.

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