Lloyd's List publisher seals £1.1bn merger with rival

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The Independent Online

Informa, the publisher of the Lloyd's List maritime newspaper and the organiser of the 3GSM mobile phone conference, yesterday unveiled a £1.1bn tie-up with Taylor & Francis, a publisher of specialist scientific and academic titles such as Philosophical Magazine.

The combined group - which will be called T&F Informa - will have a workforce of about 3,800 and will publish some 2,500 subscription-based products and organise about 2,800 conferences a year.

Shares in Taylor & Francis shot up 15 per cent, or 84.5p, to close at 647p last night while Informa finished 4 per cent, or 15p, higher at 386p.

The companies insisted yesterday that the logic behind the deal - a move they had been discussing for the past six months - was in revenue growth rather than in cutting costs. Peter Rigby, Informa's chairman, said the deal was "about driving top-line growth" and that products would not be cut from the pair's portfolio. "Our main focus will be on generating enhanced revenues," Mr Rigby said.

Shareholders in Taylor & Francis will get 17 shares in Informa for every 10 of their existing shares, which will give them 49 per cent of the combined business overall. Informa shareholders will get 51 per cent of the business.

The companies estimated annual cost savings from the deal of at least £4.6m by the start of 2005, at a cost of £1.3m, but hinted there would be few redundancies. Cost savings will come from reducing overheads in areas such as IT, distribution and printing.

David Smith, Taylor & Francis' chief executive, will be chairman of the combined business while Mr Rigby will be chief executive. David Gilbertson, Informa's chief executive, will be managing director and Tony Foye, the finance director at Taylor & Francis, will take the same role at the combined group.

Both companies also reported their 2003 financial figures yesterday. Informa unveiled a pre-tax profit of £7.7m, after accounting for £12.4m of exceptional items mainly relating to restructuring, compared with a £12.1m profit last time. Taylor & Francis, meanwhile, reported a pre-tax profit of £26.5m, up from £23.1m a year earlier.