It’s time to ask SENSIS some hard questions about the Trading Post profit

1) What costs have been taken from Trading Post into Sensis or Telstra to
ensure a $65m EBITDA. The profit has been pumped up by about $10m to ensure
there are no red faces.
2) Enquire about the Sydney Trading Post circulation?
Down 10,000 copies per week to around 50,000. The decline has been fastest under
3) Enquire about Melbourne Trading Post and Brisbane Trading
4) Private party advertising. Down +10% volume. New Sydney pricing
model (forced in by Sensis) has taken the Sydney Trading Post from the lowest
cost place to advertising to the most expensive in Sydney. (Huge preassure to
meet financial objectives ie justify 636m purchase price)
5) The entire
Trading Post Executive Team have been fired or left since the Sensis take-over.
This group of Executives have been long serving and had driven the growth behind
the success of the business.

6) Totally failed JUST LISTED project. Brand is dead in the market and no
plans how to fix it. The employment project will be interesting to watch!

Sensis are great at talking up their abilities in Yellow and White Pages –
Australia’s largest advertising monolopies. SENSIS makes +53% Ebitda margin on
this business and has the ablility to
costs from Trading Post and
other aquisitions within their cost structure. Telstra, the Government and
shareholder’s would do well to insist on more transparancy around SENSIS. If
(now in the unlikely) SENSIS is floated, it would be a TOP 20 Austrlian business
(by market capitialisation). This business is to be exposed a little more and
accountablity needs to be increased.

Trading Post is an Australian ICON that is the place many small businesses
have turned (placing preasure on FXJ and News Limited) and there needs to be
increased accountablility and a little less wholesale profiteering.

COME ON CRIKEY – Give this a run – New TELSTRA BOSS that seems slightly
unimpressed by the TP aquisition – let’s get some accountablity into this huge
media organisation – let’s test them and challenge them to respond. You love
giving Fairfax a serve along with News to a lesser extent, but the most
profitable media company always gets off for free.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey