New Sunday business paper to seek listing on AIM

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The Independent Online
Backers of a new all-business Sunday newspaper plan to seek a listing on the Alternative Investment Market before the title is launched at the end of March, writes Mathew Horsman.

The newspaper, Sunday Business, is the brainchild of Tom Rubython, founder and former editor of Business Age, which he and his partners sold to VNU, the Dutch publisher, early last year for an estimated pounds 3m. Business Age and Management Week, Mr Rubython's previous publication, developed a reputation for attracting writs.

Mr Rubython has secured the help of Williams de Broe, the broking firm, to sponsor a stock market listing.

He and unspecified partners would end up controlling the company, which is expected to have a market capitalisation of about pounds 12m-pounds 15m.

Mr Rubython confirmed that the project was under way, but declined to comment further, adding that an announcement could be made later this month. According to informed sources, the aim is to publish a single edition of six sections dedicated wholly to business. A special section, Finance Week, would be based on Barron's, the US investment newspaper.

As well as a weekly magazine, Business and Fortune, each issue would contain a broadsheet news section, with an emphasis on profiles and analysis.

With an initial circulation target of 150,000, the newspaper would be printed at West Ferry Printers, the Docklands operation jointly owned by the Express, the Telegraph and the Financial Times, and distributed by arrangement with Express Newspapers.

The plan is to hire up to 65 journalists, of which two-thirds would come from the trade press. Mr Rubython is believed to be canvassing Fleet Street journalists to fill senior positions as soon as possible, with an eye to producing three "dummy" issues starting in early March.

Headquartered in Cavendish Square, just off Oxford Circus, Sunday Business is attempting to buck the trend against start-ups. Its backers believe it will win circulation from the Sunday Times, the market leader, and become a "second" read for business people in the competitive Sunday market.

But publishing executives say the new paper will need to develop a unique style and have what one calls "an authoritative voice" to compete against the business sections of quality broadsheets.

"The Sunday papers have huge resources," said David Bell, chief executive of the Financial Times. "Any new paper would have to compete head-on with them."

Forecasts call for break-even by the third year of operation, assuming a doubling of advertising revenue between years one and three.