Monday, November 21, 2005

Show me the value!

With VNU abandoning the IMS takeover, one could wonder: why not split up all those media conglomerates?

Apparently, there wasn't enough synergy to justify the takeover price. But how much synergy is there in keeping the units of B2B conglomerates like Reed Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, Thomson Corp, McGraw-Hill etc. together? Of course, divisions share IT, HRM and billing functions, but that is merely saying that scale matters. That is not true synergy.

So far, several B2C conglomerates have been splitting up: Viacom will be next, Time Warner sold Warner Music and put AOL on the block; DreamWorks spun-off the animation unit; Emmis Communications spun-off the TV business to concentrate on radio; Clear Channel will off-load the events business and the outdoor activity; Susquehanna sold its cable business to Comcast and the radio unit to Cumulus.

The telecoms arena hasn't seen many split-ups lately (apart form Alltel, Sprint and XO selling-off local/fixed divisions). In the internet realm it's IAC and Cendant spinning off online travel stuff.

Split-up those conglomerates and create focused pure-play companies. Show me the value!

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