July 21, 2014 Last Updated 3:42 pm

Reed Business Information sells off majority stake in Reed Construction Data and all of RS Means to private equity firm

The sell off of Reed Business Information U.S. properties continues with the sale of a 51 percent stake in Reed Construction Data (RCD) to Warburg Pincus, a private equity firm. RBI also announced the complete sale of RSMeans to The Gordian Group, a portfolio company of Warburg Pincus.

In late 2009 and into 2010 RBI began to sell off most of its B2B properties in the U.S., and closed many others that could not initially find buyers. Many very good, and previously profitable magazine titles were sold off for pennies on the dollar when other B2Bs would not buy the titles.

RBI, once the largest B2B publishing company in the States, and the buyer of Cahners Business Information and many other publishers, is now basically an events company.

“We are excited about partnering with the management teams and employees of RCD and RSMeans,” Alex Berzofsky, Managing Director, Warburg Pincus said in the announcement of the sale. “For RCD, customers will continue to benefit from RBI’s involvement and Warburg Pincus’ commitment to investing, innovating and growing the business. For RSMeans’ customers, the combination with The Gordian Group brings together the leading construction cost businesses in complementary markets that will enhance and create better products and tools for the end market.”

RBI bought Reed Construction Data when the publisher was still called Cahners and the RCD was called Construction Market Data Group (CMD). CMD, and now RCD, sells construction information to contractors and others aligned to the business and for years competed with McGraw-Hill’s FW Dodge group (disclosure: I worked for the Construction Information Group at McGraw-Hill).

But Reed never integrated the construction data portion of its newly acquired business with its magazine side. As a result, editors could not take advantage of the division’s huge reservoir of information on new construction, and the magazine side never promoted the data side of the company. It was the classic one hand not knowing what the other was doing.

Now, both the construction magazines and the construction data services have been sold off, and will be run by two different companies.

Note: Back in 2009, Reed Construction Data sued McGraw-Hill’s FW Dodge division claiming that Dodge illegally accessed construction information from RCD by hiring third parties to subscribe to RCD’s services. That case, which I had assumed, was settled, is apparently still winding its way through the court system.

The McGraw-Hill/RCD rivalry goes back a long way. In the early ’90s, at time when I worked for the Construction Information Group at McGraw-Hill, McGraw-Hill hired away an important sales manager from RCD (or CMD, as it was called then). The hire was supposed to help the group, and its flagship Engineering News-Record, sell more equipment advertising.

Despite the fact that the sales manager was, in fact, a great hire, construction equipment ad sales did not grow significantly – and the sales manager eventually ended up back at RCD. McGraw-Hill later brought in a new president for the division, one that only knew how to tear a company apart, and so began the exodus of many fine publishers and sales people (myself included).

Comments are closed.