Truvo Sells Ireland Operation, Cleans Out Executive Ranks

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The European directory and local search operator Truvo has taken major steps toward consolidating around its flagship Belgian operation. On Dec. 22, Truvo “divested” its operation in Ireland, selling it to Contact Holdings, which operates Yellow Pages companies in the Baltic States. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Truvo has also dramatically curtailed its senior management team, eliminating five positions, many held by longtime Truvo executives. The departed include CFO Marc Goegebuer, MD Belgium Martine Bayen, VP HR Peter Vandenheulen, VP Marketing Jose Lema and VP Operations Ramon Ferrer. CEO Donat Rétif will assume the role of MD Belgium while the other positions will be eliminated or absorbed by remaining staff, according to an announcement sent to investors on Dec. 23. The combination of selling Ireland and eliminating senior positions will save Truvo 6 million euros in costs, according to the statement.

Jon Martinsen is CEO of Contact Holding. He and Truvo CEO Donat Retif worked together at Herold Business Data in Austria when it was owned by GTE (later to become SuperMedia). Herold is now a unit of European Directories. Contact Holdings is apparently the new name for Interinfo Holdings, which operates directory companies in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Interinfo is owned by the private-equity firm Balt Cap.

Truvo’s Irish operation, which uses the brand Golden Pages, was battered by a combination of a brutal Irish economy and a heavy exposure to one large metro market, Dublin. The last full-year figures for Truvo Ireland were in 2009, before a recapitalization removed Truvo’s obligation to report its results publicly. Truvo Ireland finished 2009 with revenues of 54 million euros, a 26 percent decline from the year before. Assuming similar declines over the past two years, the business would end this year in the 34 million euro range. David McGuffy was MD of Truvo Ireland. It is unclear if he will remain with the unit under its new ownership.

Truvo (then World Directories) was initially a minority owner of the Irish directory operation. It acquired the remaining 63 percent of the Irish business from Eircom back in 2002 for US$186 million (at the 2002 exchange rate), which was roughly an 11X multiple on EBITDA.

Rétif makes clear in the statement that Truvo sees its future tied largely to the fortunes of its Belgian operation. The fate of Portugal, Truvo’s remaining non-Belgian operation, is uncertain, but it’s logical to assume Truvo may be seeking a buyer. Truvo is also a minority owner of Trudon, the South African directory and local search provider.

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