The RIBA has refused to deny it is considering selling off a stake in its commercial arm, RIBA Enterprises
The knowledge management business, which owns brands such as NBS, is expected to be put on the market as early as July, with the RIBA expected to retain around 45 per cent ownership, sources close to the organisation have confirmed.
The future of RIBA Enterprises was considered by the RIBA Board in early 2017, when it set up a working group to explore investment options for the commercial arm.
Minutes from a RIBA Board meeting in February 2017, seen by the AJ, reveal that the group asked consultant KPMG to advise the working group on a number of different strategies.
A brief to suppliers outlines how RIBA Enterprises generates an annual profit of £3.5 million a year but requires investment to ‘maintain its leadership position in the market’.
The brief stated: ‘The level of funding required within a short timescale is difficult to attain from trading income without impairing the level of gift aid remitted to the parent company [the RIBA].’
The eight investment options include RIBA Enterprises selling all its shares, selling a controlling share, entering into a joint venture or carrying on as it is – transferring 100 per cent of its profit by way of gift aid to the RIBA.
The institute’s cash reserves have dwindled over the last few years, with the departure of a number of senior staff in 2015 and 2016 – including former chief executive Harry Rich – costing the RIBA upwards of £750,000 in severance payments, interim wages and other recruitment fees.
The RIBA declined to comment.