Hollick cuts 700 staff as US downturn deepens

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The Independent Online

United Business Media announced 700 job cuts yesterday as the hi-tech media market and wider economy worsened in the US, its key market, and bit into profits.

Worse still, Lord Hollick, the chief executive, said: "Current market conditions remain very challenging and our planning assumption is that there will be no upturn in the US this year."

The company, which owns technology magazine titles like Internet Week and Network Magazine as well as the PR Newswire service, said its cost-cutting measures including the 9 per cut in its workforce, would deliver £60m of savings over the full year.

United had already flagged in June that conditions in the hi-tech sector were tough and that it was taking corrective action. Shares in the company closed up 8.5p at 597p.

The bulk of the job losses fell in the US and more than 600 staff have already left the business. None of the company's titles have been closed. Lord Hollick said the company would consider cutting costs further if market deteriorated further.

Pre-tax profits, before goodwill amortisation and exceptionals, fell 48 per cent in the six months ended 30 June to £71.7m. Profits in its "professional media" division, which includes its CMP technology publishing business, dropped almost 50 per cent to £35.4m. That division was hurt mainly by a drop-off in high-tech advertising revenue.

Group sales from continuing operations fell 4.3 per cent to £489.4m with sales in the professional media unit down 9 per cent at £302.3m.

Lord Hollick said the company had expected a tough year but that "it just kept getting tougher". He said: "The speed of the fall has taken us all by surprise."

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