Hibu (styled hibü), formerly Yell Group plc, is a multinational directories and internet services company headquartered in Reading, Berkshire, UK. It has operations in the United Kingdom (known as Yell), the United States, and Spain (known as Paginas Amarillas). It has its origins in the yellow pages division of the privatised British telecommunications operator BT Group.
|Formerly||Yell Group (2000–12)|
|Type||Privately owned company|
|Headquarters||Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom|
|Claire Miles (CEO UK), Kevin Jasper (CEO US)|
Number of employees
|1095 UK (2019)|
In 1966, Post Office Telecommunications – a division of the UK General Post Office, launched the first UK Yellow Pages classified directory in Brighton, Sussex. Yellow Pages were rolled out across the UK by 1973, and became the first information provider on Prestel.
Yellow Pages became a separately identified business within the BT Group after BT was privatised in 1984. The red fronted Business Pages launched in 1985 in Bristol and South Wales, and the telephone directory enquiries information service Talking Pages was piloted in Brighton and Bristol from 1987, which then became known as 118 24 7 after 2003. The group launched Yell.com, its UK local search engine, in 1996 and acquired YellowBook USA in 1999 for $665 million.
The Group was renamed Yell in 2000 and BT restructured in 2001 and agreed to sell the Yell directory business to private equity firms Apax Partners and Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst (today operating in Europe as Lion Capital LLP) for £2.14 billion/$3.5 billion, making it then the largest non-corporate LBO in European history.
In May 2005, Yell announced the acquisition of US directory publisher TransWestern Publishing (and its holding company TransWestern Holdings L.P. from a consortium of private equity firms (Thomas H. Lee Partners and CIVC Partners for $1.575 billion (£829 million). TransWestern operated in 25 states and had core positions in California and Texas. The deal went through later in the year, making Yell's U.S. subsidiary Yellowbook the fifth largest directory publisher in the United States at that time. TransWestern had been acquired by CIVC Partners in 1993 and was used as a vehicle for additional acquisitions of smaller directories publishers in the western US. In 1997, TransWestern completed a leveraged recapitalisation in which Thomas H. Lee Partners and Providence Equity Partners acquired a 60% interest in the company, with CIVC retaining a minority interest. In 2001, TransWestern acquired Texas-based WorldPages.com, Inc., a leading print and Internet yellow pages publisher listed on the New York Stock Exchange for $215 million. At the time, TransWestern was the second largest independent publisher of directories.
In April 2006, Yell agreed to purchase a 59.9% stake in Spanish phone directory firm Telefónica Publicidad e Informacion (TPI) from Telefónica, and launched a bid for the remaining shares which valued TPI at a total of GB£2.3 billion (€3.3 billion; US$4.1bn). Since then, Yell has bought further capital and in September 2007 reached agreement with the minority shareholders to acquire the remaining 1.28% of what was then named Yell Publicidad (now named Hibu Connect S.A.U., operating under the name Páginas Amarillas España). In July 2006, Yell threatened Yellowikis with legal action, claiming that people will confuse the two organisations. In 2008, Yell Group purchased the Pindar Set business and renamed it Yell Adworks.
In May 2009, Yell UK announced an alliance with Google to provide search marketing services to small businesses, followed by Yell Publicidad in January 2010. In June 2009, Yell Group announced the appointment of Bob Wigley as Chairman, following the announcement in May 2009, that existing chairman Bob Scott would step down. In September 2009, Yell's US arm, Yellowbook, acquired Texas and Louisiana assets of ypOne Publishing, the 10th largest independent yellow pages publisher in the US. Yell announced the completion of its refinancing in November 2009, as first announced in June 2009 and updated in September the same year.
In February 2010, Yell UK announced the first major redesign in forty years of the traditional Yellow Pages directories into a smaller compact size rather than the traditional A4 format.
Several management changes were made in 2011. Mike Pocock was appointed Yell Group CEO from 1 January 2011, replacing previous CEO John Condron. Richard Hanscott was named CEO for the UK part of the business in June, reporting to Mike Pocock. In October, Scott Moore was appointed Group Chief Digital Officer.
In July 2011, Yell announced the acquisition of Znode, the privately owned multi-store ecommerce company and strategic alliances on digital services for small businesses with both Microsoft and Bazaarvoice. On 14 July, Yell announced a four-year plan to move away from traditional print and online advertising and focus on providing a broader range of digital services for both small businesses and consumers.
In May 2012, Yell announced that it was changing its name to Hibu, pronounced "high-boo" and styled "hibü", with rebranding undertaken by Landor. The company's shareholders approved the change of name at its annual general meeting held on 27 July 2012, and the new name became effective from 30 July 2012.
The company continued to acquire additional companies, with Moonfruit, a DIY website company, purchased in May 2012 for £18m.
In September 2012, it warned that it is working with a number of capital options that which may attribute little or no value to the group’s ordinary shares, it also warned profits would miss forecasts owing to the ongoing decline of its directory business.
As part of a strategic review of the business, in Spring 2014 Hibu decided to discontinue its US magazine business, having taken similar actions in the UK, Spain and Latin America.
On 3 March 2014, Hibu announced that the financial restructuring of the group is now effective following consent from lenders, clearance from the UK Pensions Regulator and court sanction. All of Hibu’s operations were transferred to a new group holding company, held privately by lenders.
On 18 August 2014, Hibu UK changed their customer facing brand back to Yell. They re-launched with an updated range of products including websites, pay-per-click advertising and a new display advertising proposition. As of June 2015, Yell has created over 54,000 websites and managed 20,000 PPC campaigns for customers in the UK.
The company operates in the classified advertising markets in the UK and US through digital, printed and telephone-based media. It is organised as follows:
- Yell UK
- Hibu US
- Yell Group Plc Annual Report 2012 Archived 8 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
- "Yell History – 1960–1969". Yell.com. Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2008.
- "Yell History – 1970–1979". Yell.com. Archived from the original on 8 February 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2008.
- "Yell History – 1980–1989". Yell.com. Archived from the original on 8 February 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2008.
- 118 24 7 website
- "Yell History – 1990–1999". Yell.com. Archived from the original on 8 February 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2008.
- BT Buys Yellow Book USA Archived 11 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine Press Release, 26 August 1999
- Yellow Pages to become Yell plc Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release, 13 April 2000
- "Yell History – 2000+". Yell.com. Archived from the original on 8 February 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2008.
- Yell buys US directories BBC News, 21 January 2002
- Europe's IPO trickle could become a flood Businessweek, 21 July 2003
- Yell Group to buy US phone book rival NBC News, 17 May 2005
- TransWestern Publishing Company, L.P. Announces $300 Million Recapitalization with Thomas H. Lee Company[dead link]. 8 September 1997
- TransWestern Publishing to Acquire WorldPages.com; Creates Second-Largest Independent Telephone Directory Company with Strong Presence in Both Print and Online Markets. Business Wire, 27 April 2001
- Yell snaps up Spanish rival TPI BBC News, 28 April 2006
- "Legal threat to wiki listing site". BBC News. 12 July 2006. Retrieved 12 July 2006.
- Pindar sell directory division to Yell Archived 19 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine Print Week, 8 July 2008
- Yell.com stops competing with Google, sell its adwords instead guardian.co.uk, 14 May 2009
- Yell Publicidad-Páginas Amarillas signs a strategic agreement to become an authorised reseller of Google's advertising offer in Spain Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 25 January 2010
- Appointment of Chairman Archived 27 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 8 June 2009
- Yellowbook acquires Texas and Louisiana assets of ypOne Publishing Archived 18 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 2 September 2009
- Completion of comprehensive refinancing Archived 8 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 30 November 2009
- Yell shares fall on new debt plan BBC News 30 June 2009
- Yell to raise £500m to repay debt BBC News 23 September 2009
- Yellow Pages directories to be published in handy compact size Archived 5 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 10 February 2010
- Yell buying TrustedPlaces to inject user reviews in to Yellow Pages Guardian.co.uk 20 May 2010
- Yellowbook launches Weforia.com Group Buying destination Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 25 August 2010
- "Head office". Yell Group. Archived from the original on 11 January 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
- Yell Group Plc appointment of Chief Executive Officer Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 9 November 2010
- Appointment of Chief Executive Officer Yell UK Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 29 June 2011
- Yell appoints Scott Moore to the new role of Chief Digital Officer Archived 27 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 25 October 2011
- Yell acquires Znode Archived 12 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 11 July 2011
- Microsoft and Yell announce plans for a broad strategic alliance to offer SMBs innovative digital solutions Archived 14 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 12 July 2011
- Yell and Bazaarvoice Announce Strategic Partnership to Bring Enterprise Social Management to Small and Medium Businesses Across the Globe Archived 15 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 13 July 2011
- Yell announces new strategy Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 14 July 2011
- Yell announces new alliance with Netbiscuits Archived 5 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine Press Release 15 September 2011
- Rushton, Katherine (19 September 2012). "Hibu warns its shares could become worthless". Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- "Yell surprises with change of name to Hibu". Independent. London. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- "Yell says received shareholders' approval to change name to Hibu". Reuters. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- "hibu plc — Change of name to hibu plc". Yahoo! Finance. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- Solon, Olivia (16 May 2012). "Yell snaps up DIY website and shop builder Moonfruit for £18m". Wired. Archived from the original on 19 May 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- Spanier, Gideon (17 June 2014). "Yellow Pages in u-turn over Hibu brand". The Independent. London.