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Platts to expand and diversify

Lawrence P. Neal

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Company: Platts Location: New York Title: President Big move: McGraw-Hill's executive managing director of S&P Equity Research Services shifts focus to energy and commodities division. Core responsibilities: Align budget, strategy to expand the business. Neal plans to continue to grow McGraw-Hill division Lawrence P. Neal does not stay up nights worrying about the demise of advertising spending. Nor does he worry that the surge in general business news available on the Web will shave off subscriptions to information services at Platts, the McGraw-Hill Cos. division to which he was appointed president in April. The need for the subscription-based information services his company provides is not going anywhere, he said. Traders and other stakeholders in the energy and commodities markets are navigating a changing landscape, and they look to Platts not only for its benchmark pricing data but for real-time industry news and analysis and conferences. Oil prices are up, and markets are evolving. “Any time there's volatility and movement in the market like this, it always creates demand for the news and pricing,” the former executive managing director of McGraw's S&P Equity Research Services said. “It stands to be that way for a number of years. I don't think anybody expects the energy markets are going to—all of a sudden—quiet down.” He said he will instead focus his attention on growing the business, expanding Platts' reach into new markets and increasing the company's Web offerings to include e-commerce and dynamic, commodity-based microsites. “While petroleum-based products and oil are the largest concentration of our business, we are getting success in petrochemicals and metals, for example,” he said. “We really want to accelerate those areas and continue to diversify. That also implies operating in other parts of the world, because many of these commodities are gaining significant traction where the economies are developing at an accelerated rate.” The company is looking at expanding coverage in a number of markets, the largest of which are Africa, China, India, the Middle East and Russia, he said. The company introduced a series of new oil price benchmarks for the growing Indian oil industry in June, for example. “We usually begin covering markets remotely,” he said. “Then as they establish [themselves], we put editorial and business staff into these markets.” The company is providing coverage of the development of alternative energy sources and preparing to increase its focus as the market develops, he said. Platts also will advance its internal editorial systems. “We're investing quite a bit just to give the editors the flexibility to work with all of this content in a timely way,” he said. The company will relaunch its Web site at the end of this month, adding e-commerce capabilities and explanations of pricing and editorial policies, while doing away with the site's advertising opportunities altogether, Neal said. A new series of microsites focused on specific commodity areas will give subscribers the opportunity to interact with data while also viewing news and other information available through Platts. The company announced LNG TraderNet, the first niche site, devoted to liquefied natural gas, in March. “We're taking what had been a newsletter-oriented business online to an interactive Web site,” Neal said. “It gives [subscribers] timely information in a dynamic way. We're bringing a lot of our capabilities to the Web.” That advancement comes as Platts celebrates its 100th anniversary. “I have the privilege to start the next new century,” Neal said. M
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