lunes, 31 de enero de 2011

Hearst to Buy Lagardere’s Magazine Unit for $889 Million

Lagardère, the French media conglomerate, said on Monday that it had agreed to sell its international magazine business, including titles like Car and Driver and non-French editions of Elle, to the American publishing company Hearst for 651 million euros.

The deal, worth about $889 million, came after a month of exclusive negotiations. Lagardère has been seeking to streamline its sprawling international operations and focus more on the domestic media business, following shareholder pressure to improve its performance.

Arnaud Lagardère, the chief executive and the son of the company founder, Jean-Luc Lagardère, said in a conference call that the international magazine unit lacked the scale to compete effectively in the United States and other markets, a problem that became more acute during the recent downturn in advertising.

The businesses that are being sold include 102 publications in 15 countries or territories, with 774 million euros in revenue last year. Lagardère will retain the French edition of Elle, as well as the trademark, and will collect royalties from the international versions of that magazine. The company said it would continue to “guarantee the consistency” of the Elle brand in the areas affected by the sale: the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Italy, Spain, Britain, China, Japan, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Mexico, Taiwan, Canada and Germany.

Lagardère, which also owns the Hachette publishing house and Paris Match magazine, has been moving to shed assets that the company no longer considers strategic. Mr. Lagardère, who also wants to sell a 20 percent stake in the French pay-television channel Canal Plus, has been building up the company’s presence in businesses like sports management.

Analysts also expect Lagardère to try to sell a 7.5 percent stake in EADS, the parent of the airplane manufacturer Airbus.