x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Emap acquires Contax Market Intelligence

Emap Middle East, the company behind MEED magazine and AME Info, has bought a Dubai-based intelligence service.

Emap Middle East, the company behind MEED magazine and online information provider AME Info, has bought a Dubai-based business intelligence service to expand the high-value subscription arm of its business. The move is part of the media company's efforts to address weakness in the global advertising market by shifting its emphasis away from its advertising-supported products and towards more stable sources of revenue, such as events and premium business-intelligence subscription services. "The key drivers of strategy for us are in two areas, events and high-value subscription information, because advertising is a tough market and will remain tough for some time," said Richard Baker, the chief executive of Emap Middle East. The advertising market was so tough at the start of the year that the company had to lay off 19 of its 160 employees in March. Mr Baker said all of those employees were now being replaced, thanks to its acquisition this month of the Contax Market Intelligence database, a web-based intelligence service that tracks and monitors energy, infrastructure and construction projects across the MENA region. Four employees will be added to -Emap's Dubai Media City office, while 20 will be added to a back office in India. The new service will more than double the reach of Emap's MEED Projects service, which will now track more than 7,000 live projects with a total value of US$5.4 trillion (Dh19.83tn). "The threshold is broadly $50 million, so we don't really cover anything below that," Mr Baker said. "It wouldn't really cover a compound of a half-dozen villas being built, but of course it covers things like Yas Island and the really big landmark projects that are being built." The service is available for a subscription of between $2,000 and $20,000 a year, ensuring it will remain a "niche" service, Mr Baker said. But he expected to double the current base of 350 subscribers in the next two to three years. The economic crisis had helped set the stage for this growth, he said, as investors who suffered now wanted to be more informed in this market. And the downturn's effects on more developed markets showed the Middle East in an even more favourable light. "Probably, if you asked me two years ago, very few companies outside of the Middle East were interested in advertising, researching or finding out about work here," Mr Baker said. "Since the crunch, interest levels have gone up. The one thing that is clear is people are very careful about where they spend their money. The interest is there, but buying decisions probably take twice as long as they did 12 months ago. "But there are still opportunities here, which is not the case everywhere." The company also plans to capitalise on the market's depressed prices. "Increasingly, companies want hard data," Mr Baker said. "Construction is an important sector for that, but there are other areas that we could look into such as corporate information, oil and gas, and telecoms." With such acquisitions, the company hopes to take events and high-value subscription services from 25 to 35 per cent each of total business. khagey@thenational.ae