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Intertec CEO seeks to bridge old, new

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Primedia Inc. is looking to new Intertec Publishing CEO Tim Andrews to successfully join the company's new-media holdings with the cornucopia of old media under the Intertec umbrella.

Andrews has been president-CEO of Primedia's IndustryClick unit, which will continue to report to him. He has his work cut out for him at Intertec, which owns more than 100 magazines, 30 trade shows and 450 books and directories. He'll be responsible for the integration of Intertec's rather sleepy print products with IndustryClick's vertical online communities.

Andrews has been down this road before. Before joining IndustryClick earlier this year he oversaw the formation of Factiva, a $225 million joint venture linking the business and information services of Reuters and Dow Jones & Co. Inc., the world's largest providers of business and financial information. He recently spoke to BtoB about the role he'll now play at Intertec.

BtoB: There's been speculation in the market this year that Primedia will eventually spin off IndustryClick. Do you think there would be much interest in the market for IndustryClick? If Primedia were to sell out, how would that affect the company's overall marketing efforts?

Andrews: The market has changed. The goal was to build IndustryClick as quickly as possible and as strongly as we could. As the markets recover, we might consider floating stock in some part of the company, but we certainly don't have any plans to do that now. What we need to do now is create a great b-to-b company.

BtoB: Barring a sale of IndustryClick, for now, what new opportunities will you be looking to cultivate for IndustryClick as they relate to Intertec titles and, more specifically, in which markets?

Andrews: Our goal was to build out a Web site for all our magazine titles and identify multimedia opportunities in the b-to-b space using IndustryClick as a development platform. We want to create broader, horizontal sites, such as TelecomClick.com in the telecommunications space [whose development and launch Andrews oversaw].

We're also in discussions with ABZ, a subsidiary of About Inc. [which Intertec purchased in October for $690 million in stock] to understand how we should leverage IndustryClick. There are emerging efforts in both the telecommunications and agricultural spaces. There are also several sites we're trying to tackle in media and marketing.

BtoB: How do you think IndustryClick is braced for increased competition from other online vertical communities? How is the site distinguishing itself?

Andrews: We have tremendous assets in both print and multimedia that other companies can't touch. We also have licenses with 250 other publishers, so it's not simply a vertical community leveraging our own content but combining the site with other providers to present content in unique ways. We've spent considerable time with users to get to the core of what they want, and also what advertisers want.

I'm also quite bullish on reaching people outside the U.S., initially targeting Europe, Latin America and then Asia.

BtoB: After reaching a 52-week high of nearly $35 a share, Primedia's stock has been languishing around $7 to $10 as we head into 2001. Why is Wall Street largely ignoring a company with both old- and new-media properties?

Andrews: [Primedia CEO] Tom Rodgers recently met with investors and others to explain the merger with About Inc. But my focus is building Intertec magazines into a strong b-to-b play.

BtoB: In what areas of Intertec publishing do you see undervalued properties? And how do you intend to increase their value? More acquisitions? New trade shows?

Andrews: We'll be looking at ways to fill out parts of magazines, Web sites and trade shows. I need to understand where the strengths are in the magazines and have the magazines work more closely together in some markets.

They're opportunities for both enhanced advertising packages and editorial coverage. For example, streaming media moves across a range of people in the telecommunications space. We have a great interest in titles that dovetail with streaming media, which is being leveraged throughout the market sector.

We might have selective acquisitions, but [right now] we're looking to developing things ourselves. We're building organically.

BtoB: In the wake of the dot-com flameout in April, are you confident that Primedia will be able to crack the code to wed old media to new?

Andrews: We have a unique understanding on how to bring together assets and create strong businesses. Intertec has been built out over the last 10 years through acquisitions and integrating them. We have the same skills in analyzing new markets and understanding how we can generate value, both online and offline, for Primedia shareholders.

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