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Sensis plans digital come back

Telstra's zombie is awake and hungry

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Telstra’s advertising and directories arm Sensis is back on the acquisition trail as it plots a digitally focused resurgence. "Reports of our death are exaggerated," declared Sensis CEO Bruce Akhurst at an analyst briefing.

But he revealed it would take three years for the Yellow Pages unit to return to organic revenue growth after forecasting revenue declines in mid single-digit figures for fiscal 2011.

Akhurst said Sensis had spent the last two years investing in the development of the digital side of its business. "We re-engineered our IT systems and processes to ensure we had the flexibility to remain competitive in the digital world and deliver increased business leads to our customers across the multiple platforms consumers are now searching," he said.

During the Switkowski era Sensis was touted as Telstra’s growth engine and was being primed for a float after making big ticket acquisitions like the Trading Post Group for $636 million in 2004 but the unit’s spin-off plans were shelved during Trujillo’s reign.

Akhurst said that Sensis would be looking for “bolt-on acquisitions”, in the same vein as the recent acquisitions of online quote service Quotify and Life Events Media. "Sensis is now a digital-led business," he said but added that take time before the full benefit of its digital growth kicks into the financials.

This week Sensis launched a new range of online products to drive digital revenue growth, offering customers ways of marketing their businesses through online directories, websites and mobile devices.

‘‘No one can package holistic advertising solutions and take them to market like Sensis. Print, online, voice, mobile, iPads, T-Box etcetera, means we can package a true cross-platform solution for SMEs (small and medium enterprise), and that means more reach more easily for them,” he said. ®

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