Times Online december 30th 2007:

THE professional publisher Reed Elsevier has failed to sell off its controversial arms fairs by the end of this year as planned.

The tiny but highly profitable division was put up for sale in June after key customers and authors took offence at Reed’s involvement in shows such as DSEi (Defence Systems & Equipment International), London’s main arms fair, where some exhibitors were ejected this year for trying to promote leg irons.

Sir Crispin Davis, Reed’s chief executive, was criticised at last year’s annual meeting by antiwar campaigners. F&C Asset Management and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust also sold their shares in the company in protest.

Bids for the division, which includes the Abu Dhabi Idex fair, came in at close to £30m, but failed to progress. The sale is being handled by Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Reed said recently that there was “very active interest” in the portfolio.