Yellow Pages (HIBU) stock market listing disappears

Yesterday at 4pm, Hibu (formerly Yell - Yellow Pages) announced that:

As a first step to facilitating this transfer and the financial restructuring as a whole, the Board of hibu plc has today appointed certain partners of Deloitte LLP to act as administrators to hibu plc only. No other Group companies have been placed into administration.

As a consequence of hibu plc being placed into administration, the administrators will shortly be writing to shareholders announcing their intention to adjourn the General Meeting of shareholders scheduled for 4 December 2013.

Following the appointment of administrators to hibu plc, the listing of the hibu plc's shares is expected to be cancelled with effect from 08:00 on 28 November 2013.

The end of an era for a company once known for its famous TV ads featuring amongst others JR Hartley in the 1980's.


The shares stood at 0.17p yesterday, in 2007 there were trading for over £6, after floating in 2003. 

The company acquired YellowBook USA in 1999 for $665 million, in 2002 it bought McLeod USA, one of the largest independent directory publishers in the US for about $600 million. In May 2005, it bought the U.S. directory publisher TransWestern Publishing (and its holding company TransWestern Holdings L.P. from a consortium of private equity firms (Thomas H. Lee Partners and CIVC Partners for $1.575 billion (£829 million). In 2001, TransWestern acquired Texas-based WorldPages.com, Inc., a leading print and Internet yellow pages publisher listed on the New York Stock Exchange for $215 million. 

In April 2006, Yell agreed to purchase a 59.9% stake in Spanish phone directory firm Telefónica Publicidad e Informacion (TPI) from Telefónica, and launched a bid for the remaining shares which valued TPI at a total of GB£2.3 billion (€3.3 billion; US$4.1bn). 

Hibu's shares have been suspended since July. It built up £2.3 billion of debt during an acquisition spree a decade ago. Its customers have deserted its key product, the Yellow Pages directory, to online digital advertising with Google.

The new Hibu, has cut its debt burdent to around £1.5 billion as a result of the restructuring which wiped out equity investors and passed control to bond holders such as George Soros's hedge fund, private equity group Blackstone and investment bank Deutsche Bank.

The administration will also fend off an emergency general meeting which had been planned for next week where shareholders would have had a chance to question the company's management. Several hundred shareholders had forced Hibu to call an EGM, where they planned to grill management over the handling of the administration and appoint new non-executive directors.

Hibu will now focus on building up its business creating and running websites for small companies. Bob Wigley, chairman, said the dismantling of the listed company brought Hibu a step closer to securing a new capital structure that would "enable the business to survive and prosper and to safeguard the prospects for our 12,000 employees".

He said that Hibu's new digital services were growing quickly and finding new customers. "Our enhanced digital product offering is growing fast and increasingly finding new customers following our recent marketing campaign."

Despite what Wigley says, what a cock up. HIBU like Kodak got caught out by the emergence of digital. Insead of anticipating the move from paper to online business advertising it bought even more directory businesses. If the management had spent £3 billion buying Google in the late 2000's now that would have been smart. Now most Yellow Pages are used as door stops!