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Thus any increase in demand would initially cause prices to rise before increased production could catch up. Observing that investor speculation tends to drive markets ahead of events, I am inclined to be cautious. But sales of Grazia, Heat and Closer held up better over the first quarter, suggesting women are more committed to their magazines. This has gained a new urgency following the May departure of long-serving chief executive Tom Moloney.Emap has sold off the French business Agor and is expected to sell its Irish radio seo packages division in the near future.

The company is reviewing its Australian division. Some analysts would prefer a full break-up of the company to realise the value of its diverse assets – Emap also owns a slew of radio businesses, which include the Magic station, and a strong business-to-business publishing and exhibitions business. In its current form, Emap’s B2B operations are performing strongly, particularly in exhibitions, although radio revenue was hit by a renegotiating of its advertising contracts.


Emap argues that it has already taken action to improve the performance of its consumer magazines and radio assets, and is targeting a minimum of £20m in cost savings by 2009. With impending asset disposals and a replacement for Mr Moloney expected in the short term, Emap shares could bounce but questions remain over the structure of the company, given significant consolidation in both the radio and B2B sectors of late.

Still, until the new chief executive sets out a new strategy, investors should hold. In the UK, interest rates are rising and bad debts – while stabilising – are at very high levels. Most banks are concentrating on managing their existing portfolios rather than seeking much new business. As for the US, the words “sub prime” and crisis have been mutually interchangeable for months now. Organic growth of 7 per cent is hardly earth-shattering and the UK growth of 6 per cent shows how difficult the market has become.