The Yellow Pages owner Yell surprised the City by announcing that it is renaming itself Hibu yesterday, even as it slumped to a pre-tax loss of £1.42bn and warned of a "higher risk" it could breach covenants on its bank debt.
The chief executive Mike Pocock admitted Hibu — pronounced "high-boo" — did not mean anything. "It's a word," he said. "If you go back 15 to 20 years, Google and Yahoo didn't mean anything. It's how you support the brands."
Shares in Yell plunged 24 per cent or 0.75p to 2.41p.
Twitter users mocked Yell for the rebrand. "Proof if proof were needed that 'image consultants'are, to a man, utterly bonkers," said one tweet.
Yell insisted it was not "spending a fortune" on the rebrand, carried out by WPP agency Landor. Mr Pocock said it was necessary because Yell had low awareness online, especially among those aged under 35. "We've done extensive testing — we have no doubt it'll work," he added. Yellow Pages will remain as a print brand, he said.
Group revenues continued to slide, down 14 per cent to £1.61bn. Goldman Sachs and Greenhill are to help refinance its £2.2bn debt load, which matures in 2014.