Canpages, the leading competitive directory publisher in Canada, appears to be making a play for the CanWest media properties, which would greatly expand and diversify Canpages’ operations. According to a story this week in the Globe and Mail, Canpages is one of two companies bidding on 46 newspapers owned by the financially troubled CanWest Global Communications. The report values the assets at C$1 billion. Canpages would make the bid along with its owner, Hicks Capital, and Paul Godfrey, president of CanWest’s National Post.
If successful, the deal would leapfrog Canpages into a leadership role in Canada’s media landscape, and make it an even more formidable competitor to Canada’s leading directory player, Yellow Pages Group, which announced its year-end earnings yesterday.
Canpages also recently announced its first foray south of the U.S.-Canadian border via its relationship with U.S. independent Phone Directories Corp., where PDC will rebrand its PDC Pages IYP as Ziplocal.com (which is owned by Canpages) and rebrand itself as Ziplocal. This move is similar to Hearst’s decision to rebrand its independent directory property White Directory Publishers as LocalEdge Media. Ziplocal was a Canadian local search platform acquired by Canpages in 2009. This arrangement certainly begs the question of whether some deeper connection between Canpages and PDC looms in the future. PDC once owned Canpages’ predecessor company in Canada and the two are both Hicks Capital (formerly Hicks Muse) portfolio companies.
On the year-end earnings call, YPG CEO Marc Tellier said the company plans to make changes to its brand to keep pace with the changing media environment. ”We’re going to look at repositioning our brand, repositioning the logo to be more representative of this new digital universe,” Tellier said.
For the full year 2009, YPG’s directories division grew .9 percent to C$1.4 billion. Fourth-quarter revenues were down 2.6 percent to C$345 million. The company’s vertical media division had a very tough year, dropping 22.8 percent to C$248 million.