Major YP Pubishers Getting Ready to Merge?

Chris Silver Smith offers a provocative post that argues there’s an impending merger afoot between one or more of the traditional YP publishers: SuperMedia and Dex and maybe AT&T.

There are people who argued to me that a SuperMedia and Dex/RHD merger could and maybe should have happened during the bankruptcy of both companies a year ago; but it obviously did not. Chris supports his theory with a series of arguments that I won’t reproduce. However, among them, he cites increased cooperation and distribution deals among the companies, market and general competitive conditions and “whispers” he’s heard, as evidence that something’s in the works.

I have not heard anything similar myself but Chris has contacts that I do not. I will acknowledge that there is a certain logic to a merger to create more scale here. There’s also increasing pressure on the traditional side of the business where most of the revenue still resides. Many people would potentially lose jobs if that were to happen of course as redundancies and headcount were eliminated.

There was also a rumor that Yellowbook might be for sale. I’ve heard nothing more about this since it surfaced however.

If any of this is true we could wind up at the end of 2011 with a very different YP publisher landscape than we have now. I don’t think there would be anti-trust issues because of the competition posed by the Internet and the many companies now vying for SMB ad dollars.

Do you think there’s any merit to these merger rumors? Does it make sense for these companies to combine?

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10 Responses to “Major YP Pubishers Getting Ready to Merge?”

  1. Tweets that mention Major YP Pubishers Getting Ready to Merge? -- Topsy.com says at

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Greg Sterling. Greg Sterling said: Major YP Pubishers Getting Ready to Merge? http://bit.ly/hjnQbh [...]

  2. Joe DeBlasio says at

    Interesting!  I did not know about George, Maggie and Sean.  The merger would seem to make sense for many reasons ( with the driver being huge cost savings). As Chris infers AT&T would most likely be the aggregator.  Greg, if the merger happens we’d almost be back to pre-1982 when there was one AT&T!  

  3. Greg Sterling says at

    Agree Joe. AT&T reconstituted all the way around.

  4. Adam says at

    Very interesting… and with the background, not too surprising. AT&T will gobble the others whole. (Although deep down inside I really wish the AT&T juggernaut would stop feeding.)

    Even with a merger they’ll still take the backseat, in my opinion. YP, Superpages and Dex will still be important, but as far as advertising and traffic goes, Google is really rocking the local and mobile now and they’ve got big plans.

  5. Dallas SEO Consultant - Mike Stewart says at

    Same thing happened in wireless, satelite radio, and telecom…. why not yp? Yellow Pages is a commodity of sorts. Easy to merge. The challenge is in the debt and eroding revenues.

    Since Paulson has a stake in both companies why not? Since Verizon no longer has to publish in many markets, why not? Since a combined company would save on operational expenses, why not? Because of debt…. right?

  6. Mike Mueller says at

    Interesting, Greg. I think there is merit and it does make sense.

    The print revenue continues to dry up for these publishers and on the internet front, they will continue to battle customer churn and a waking giant in Google–who is now starting to get serious about going after SMBs rather than letting resellers (like AT&T) have all the fun. So YP publishers have to cut expenses and consolidate resources. 

    Does anyone think that the day when customers will be given the option to opt out of receiving a YP print directory is far off?

  7. Dallas SEO Consultant - Mike Stewart says at

    MIKE it is around the corner. The same for all print including post mail and newspaper. Opt in will be a movement. As more and more move to mobile, tablet, and tv on top of pc, you will see more electronic users complain about waste and nuisance.

  8. bob says at

    Interesting chatter…but you still have to factor in the EBITA for all of these companies. Debt will factor into play for anyone who wants to pick up all the pieces. Also you have to remember that most of the areas covered by Dex are not duplicated with Supermedia…so having enough bodies to cover those areas would still be a factor. I agree cuts could be made at the corporate level with administration, but you’ll still need to maintain a higher head count to keep customer satisfaction in place. A new buyer would not want to continue to see profits eroding due to a buy out.

  9. Dallas SEO Consultant - Mike Stewart says at

    Why do you need a sales rep to buy phone book ads Bob? Can’t you buy online? It is not like they can even get the ads right without error due to sales objectives and cycles… always late or moving bookclose.

  10. Kaylynn says at

    Speaking from someone who has worked in both print publication and online marketing solutions with SMB. Print YP’s still have a lot of very solid usage, way too many stats out there prove otherwise. Google is eating up alright but a lot of the information they get about SMB comes from print directories with very strong IYP profiles for their local customers. Consumers want information when they have a need, that is not something that google has been able to provide in a relevant local way. I’m curious to see what they can come up with that can bring in information and make sense in a cost effective way for SMB owners.

  11. Local Matters CEO Leaves for SuperMedia says at

    [...] new stability in key roles will enable employees to focus on products and services. There are also rumors out there of M&A activity among the yellow pages publishers. I don’t have any independent information on that [...]

  12. Exclusive: YPG to Buy Dex, SuperMedia says at

    [...] plus assumption of the substantial debt that both publishers hold. There had been unsubstantiated rumors of a merger between SuperMedia and Dex in the past, but I wasn’t directly exposed to any of those. They came to me via “double [...]

  13. Rusty says at

    The only thing a merger with Dex and Supermedia would do is relieve Supermedia of the dept they have. Why not ? They already let the tax payers pay off over 9 Billion dollars. And Verizon gets off scott free. Just another company taking advantage of the write-offs the fool tax payers are willing to let happen. No worries, America is rich remember …. And Dex will just do the same down the road.

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