RELX Group, the information and analytics formerly known as Reed Elsevier, lifted its final dividend 10%, pledged to repeat its £700m share buyback in 2018 and proposed to merge its UK and Dutch parent companies in a further simplification of its corporate structure.
The group, which will remain in the FTSE 100 and continue to be listed in New York, will apply for its Plc shares to be listed on Euronext Amsterdam after the merger. There are no plans to change to its current headquarters, office locations, staffing levels or dividends in what is expected to be a cost- and profit-neutral process.
“We believe this is a natural next step for RELX, removing complexity and increasing transparency,” said chairman Anthony Habgood.
Chief executive Erik Engstrom said the company's strategy is unchanged: “Our number one priority remains the organic development of increasingly sophisticated information-based analytics and decision tools that deliver enhanced value to our customers.
“We believe that the systematic evolution of our business has driven an improvement in our business profile and the quality of our earnings, with more predictable revenues, a higher growth profile, and improving returns.”
For the last calendar year, RELX generated underlying revenue of £7.36bn, an increase of 4%.
Reported operating profit of £1.9bn represented underlying growth of 6%, with growth of 8% in sterling terms when including the effects of portfolio changes and cycling, or 1% in euros.
Adjusted earnings per share grew 7% in constant currencies or 12% in sterling to 81.0p and 5% in euro to €0.923.
A full year dividend of 39.4p was proposed for RELX Plc, up 10%, or up 6% to €0.448 for RELX NV.
On the outlook, the company reported key business trends in the early part of 2018 as being consistent with 2017.
Management expressed confidence that, “by continuing to execute on our strategy, we will deliver another year of underlying growth in revenue and in adjusted operating profit, together with growth in adjusted earnings per share on a constant currency basis”.