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Informa confident on profit growth and says ‘combination phase’ with UBM now complete

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Global organiser Informa group has reported underlying revenue growth of 3.9% and completion on schedule of the combination phase - Accelerated Integration Plan (AIP) - for absorbing the UBM business. The company released the news in a trading update for 10 months ending 31 October 2018.

Group Chief Executive Stephen Carter (pictured) commented: “At Informa, we remain focused on delivering improving growth and returns, whilst effectively combining UBM into the Informa Group to create brands and platforms for future growth and scale.

“With more than 60% of our revenue forward booked and recurring, we have good forward visibility. Similarly, our increased international breadth, in particular our strong positions in the US, Asia and the Middle East, leave us well placed to meet expectations.

“As ever, the last two months of the year are important, particularly in our more retail and transactional businesses, but we remain confident of delivering a further year of growth in revenue, profit, earnings, dividends and cashflow.”

The standalone Informa Group reported underlying revenue growth of 4.1% in the 10 months to 31 October, with the new combined Informa Group reporting 3.9%.

The trading statement highlighted that performance was in line with expectations and left the business of track for 3.5% underlying revenue growth by the end of the year, despite ‘macro uncertainties’ in the form of US/China trade relations, Middle East political tension and Brexit negotiations.

Commenting on the UBM brands and businesses, the statement said: “Since the summer, we have moved quickly to implement the AIP, in order to reduce uncertainty and maintain operational momentum in UBM’s brands and businesses. This has been achieved with minimal revenue leakage, reflected in robust trading, bar ongoing weakness in the Fashion business. The absence of any performance discount is testament to the positive and collaborative attitude of UBM colleagues, the spirit of combination and the exciting potential of the new emerging business.”

The Group stated that the one-year phased AIP for UBM, due to be largely completed this year, includes:

  • AIP Operating Model: The allocation of UBM’s businesses and teams into the Informa operating structure is largely complete. In Asia, Informa’s business has been folded into the existing UBM operating structure. In EMEA and the Americas (North and South), UBM’s businesses have been combined into Informa’s existing vertical and regional structures.
  • AIP Leadership & Talent: More than 100 senior management appointments have been confirmed for the combined group and wider team structures and reporting lines are also largely finalised. This ensures vertical/regional teams will have clear ownership of 2019 targets and objectives.
  • AIP Progressive Portfolio Management: Activity to increase the focus on verticals and businesses where the company has strong market positions and greater opportunities for growth and scale, is underway. Informa is engaged with prospective buyers for specific parts of the Information Services business, including the Agribusiness portfolio and IGM, part of the Finance information business.
  • AIP Synergies: As team structures and reporting lines are confirmed, the company says it is addressing obvious areas of overlap and duplication, reducing run-rate costs. There is a cost synergy target of at least £50m in-year in 2019, rising to a £60m run rate by end 2020 and £75m by end 2021 (targets are pre-reinvestment into Fashion Growth Acceleration Plan).
  • After cost synergies, come revenue opportunities. Some are more immediate than others, with cross-marketing initiatives likely to have a positive impact from 2019.
  • The company also sees attractive digital opportunities over time, as it starts to use our international scale to greater effect. Digital Services revenue growth in the Global Exhibitions Division will be led by John Van der Valk, who was previously managing director of the CPhI portfolio within UBM.
  • AIP Fashion Growth Acceleration Plan: The restructuring programme in Fashion is underway following the appointment of a new MD of the Fashion Exhibitions business in September (Mark Temple-Smith, previously commercial director for Informa Exhibitions).
  • The Group concluded that the strategy since 2013 has been to focus and organise the business around its customers and end markets while investing in platforms for long term sustainable growth and scale, of which the UBM acquisition was an important part.
  • Looking to 2019, it will be operating as a single combined group and targeting ‘further profitable growth’.