The change of ownership comes as surprise, following months of negotiations behind closed doors between the parties involved. The deal does not affect the staff, assure both sides.
Everyone remains on board, confirms Norman Bamford, the longtime ACW owner. Following the inking of the contract, it was announced that a very well-known name is
taking the helm of the new ACW: Steven Polmans, the current Chairman of the Industry Association TIACA. A personell decision treated much like a state secret.
Steven proved last Wednesday evening (27SEP23), during a boat trip on the Danube, organized by Budapest Airport Cargo, that he can be extremely discreet. The atmosphere was, as usual after a long conference day, very relaxed and the topics changed occasionally. However, one aspect was in the foreground: the breach of journalistic standards by many members of the Air Cargo trade press. There are only two opinion media in this sector: CargoForwarder Global and another Western European portal, were Polman's words. The tendency of others is copying and pasting press releases without questioning the contents. More important to them is to be the fastest on Google so as to gaining as many clicks as possible. This is harmful because particularly in challenging times the industry needs media that publish factual, critical, and well-researched reports in order to spur developments further instead of the usual bla bla.
Financial details are not revealed
So much for the consensus on the boat. However, less than 36 hours later, CargoForwarder Global is informed in a telephone conversation that the French PR agency Lemon Queen has bought British media Air Cargo Week (ACW), including the entire A-Z Group Ltd (Azura International). When asked about the price of the transaction, Lemon Queen founder and agency head, Audrey Serdjebi, remained tight lipped. It is estimated to be well above 100,000 euros. "Nice try, but I don’t comment," were her words. Accordingly, the financing modalities also remain in the dark.
Steven Polmans is ACW’s new MD
In addition to this unexpected commercial transaction, the second big surprise is that Lemon Queen has managed to persuade TIACA Chair Steven Polmans to accept the role as new Managing Director at ACW. Based on his 25+ years of air cargo expertise, he decided to take on the challenge of converting the rather uncritical ACW into a publication that focuses on creating insightful and thought-provoking contents with a particular emphasize on sustainability, digitalization and emerging cargo trends. “To be very clear, my main focus will be strategy. I’m not a journalist and do not plan nor have the ambition to become one,” Steven declares. He goes on to say: “As MD, I will bolster the […} work of the current editorial team by providing additional support and resources.”
Norman Bamford retires
The change of ownership became inevitable when ACW’s Director, Norman Bamford (60) decided to retire. With Lemon Queen, the AZ Group has found a new proprietor that shares the passion for the industry and has the skills and visions to build on a solid base that Azura International has established, reads a statement. “I have had the pleasure of working with Ms. Serdjebi for 12 years,” he states. Hence, Norman has seen first-hand that Audrey is one of the most energetic, creative, and innovative personalities in the broad landscape of cargo media and agency activities. “My deep affection for the air freight industry and my desire to contribute to its transformation through the media inspired me to buy Azura International,” she explains.
Will the TIACA chair become vacant?
Meanwhile, Mr. Polmans declared that in his new role he will commit to ethical journalism and transparent reporting, while Ms. Serdjebi assured that her agency will continue to serve all media fair and equally. Editorial independence and unbiased coverage will be ensured.
Despite Polman's new commitment he will remain in his voluntary role as Chair of TIACA. However, he added that this will remain so at least until November, when new elections are due at TIACA. With this hint, he opened the door to speculation about a possible successor.
It can be expected that until then he will remain as discreet as he was in Budapest on board the tour boat should the debate about a possible successor gain traction
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