Outlook: Reed Elsevier

IT'S BEEN a long time coming but after a year of searching and several false starts, Reed Elsevier has finally got its man. He is Crispin Davis, who becomes chief executive of the beleaguered online database publishing group from the beginning of September. The shares jumped 8 per cent on the appointment but the Reed grandees could probably have appointed Coco the Clown and still seen the stock trickle upwards, such has been the City's desperation for the void to be filled.

Mr Davis isn't anyone's fool, but is he the right man for Reed? No-one can quarrel with his performance at Aegis, the media buying group he has led since 1994. In that time the shares have risen six fold and he has undertaken a wide-ranging re-structuring programme that has developed the Aegis brands, expanded the group internationally and moved its operations into higher margin areas.

All this has made him popular in the City, but Reed is a tougher proposition. The company has lost its way after a period of management drift and a number of profits warnings. Crucially Mr Davis must find a solution to the internet challenge which has seen nimbler US rivals eat away at the Lexis-Nexis database publishing business.

However, he's got quite a lot going for him. Reed has strong brands with powerful market positions in sectors like legal and scientific publishing and a man with Mr Davis' marketing nous should be able to improve returns. Reed has also tidied up its management structure with a unitary board replacing the old executive committee. In itself this should ease the decision making process. Where Mr Davis is untried is in the field of internet related activities. For choice, the City would have preferred an American internet guru with marketing and plc experience. But if such a person exists at all, be was certainly not available for the money on offer from Reed.

Those searching for parallels with other top media appointments should look to Pearson, where Marjorie Scardino has delivered a significant share price rise in her two and a half years at the helm . After a year in which Reed's shares have underperformed the market by 25 per cent, Mr Davis will be a hot property if he can deliver anything remotely similar.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect