Bloomberg News

KKR’s PagesJaunes Plunges on Dividend Suspension: Paris Mover

February 17, 2012

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- PagesJaunes SA, controlled by KKR & Co., slumped in Paris after a profit drop prompted the company to suspend its 2011 dividend payment.

PagesJaunes fell as much as 12 percent, its biggest decline since June 2009. The shares were down 11 percent at 2.95 euros at 11:05 a.m. in Paris.

Net income fell 19 percent to 197.1 million euros ($260 million) in 2011, the French yellow pages publisher said. The company predicted stable revenue in 2012, and a gross operating margin at between 470 million euros and 485 million euros.

Phonebook publishers have struggled to boost sales as users and advertisers ditch their printed directories for online searches. While the companies have beefed up their own Internet- based offerings, they still depend on phonebooks for a significant part of their revenue. PagesJaunes said today that for the first time online revenue became its main business, accounting for 52 percent of sales last year.

KKR, the private equity firm based in New York, bought France Telecom SA’s 54 percent stake in PagesJaunes for about 3.3 billion euros, or 22 euros a share, in 2006. PagesJaunes has fallen 85 percent since then, not including today’s decline.

Analysts at Gilbert Dupont suspended their ‘buy’ rating on the shares. Gilbert Dupont wrote today that it expected a 2011 dividend of 50 euro cents a share, and added that the 2012 outlook is “disappointing.”

Debt Burden

PagesJaunes has been struggling under its burden of debt. It amended its debt in April to extend maturity of 962 million euros of bank loans to September 2015 from November 2013.

It offered lenders increased interest margins and fees for accepting the changes. In May, it sold 350 million euros in new borrowings.

The Sevres, France-based publisher’s reorganization has caused “severe disruption” within its sales force, hurting revenue, it said in July.

--Editor: Vidya Root, Steve Rhinds

To contact the reporter on this story: David Whitehouse in Paris at dwhitehouse1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Rhinds at srhinds@bloomberg.net


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