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Friday, 25 February, 2000, 10:39 GMT
Web strategy for United News and Media

UK media group United News & Media wants to put the internet at "the heart of [its] activities", with a 370m ($590m) investment programme over two years, and plans to float parts of the online business on the stock markets.

The company is the world's second-largest publisher of high-tech magazines and owns a string of newspapers and television stations in the UK.

All European web activities will be brought together in one "New Media Division". offering internet portals, business-to-consumer and business-to-business activities and "e-services".

They will get a 270m boost, with the rest of the investment going to United News' business in the US.

The group said it was in "advanced discussion with a number of highly significant technology and market partners to drive forward its internet plans, and further announcements will be made in due course".

Web flotation

Shareholders could soon reap the rewards, as the firm announced that it plans to float parts of its web operations on the stock market, possibly within the next 18 months.

Lord Clive Hollick, United's chief executive, said the group would probably float less than 20% of its internet division, "but that would give us the currency we will need to develop future partnerships".

Lord Clive Hollick Lord Hollick: "The New Media Division will be tasked with taking United online"
United News also posted a fall in pre-tax profits to 279m, down from 290m a year earlier, a result that was in range with market expectations.

Like-for-like profits were up 10%, though, and revenues rose by 16%.

Lord Hollick said: "2000 is off to an encouraging start with tentative signs of a recovery in the important high-tech advertising market and ITV continuing its strong growth of last year."

United News & Media is currently in the process of taking over rival broadcaster Carlton Communications.

Among United News' assets are Anglia Television, HTV and Meridian Broadcasting, the ITV licence holders for East Anglia, Wales and the West of England, and the South and South East of England respectively. It also has a 29% stake in Channel 5.

Other high-profile businesses are newspapers like The Express, Daily Star and Exchange & Mart, plus a string of magazines.

However, the biggest part of the operation are specialist magazines and the exhibitions business.

Miller Freeman, part of United News, is the world's largest trade show group. Mediamark Research, PR Newswire, Visual Communications Group and polling organisation NOP are other parts of the media group.

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See also:
26 Nov 99 |  Business
Is Carlton United a winning team?
26 Nov 99 |  Business
Hollick makes his move
26 Nov 99 |  Business
8bn media merger agreed

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