NatMags’ G&J buyout stuns magazine world

The National Magazine Company has snapped up Gruner & Jahr UK in a shock move that will have stunned its heavyweight rival IPC.

The National Magazine Company has snapped up Gruner & Jahr UK in a

shock move that will have stunned its heavyweight rival IPC.



G&J, the UK arm of the Bertelsmann-controlled publishing empire, was

expected to do a deal with IPC after reports of late-stage negotiations

between the companies emerged last week. But NatMags acted swiftly to

revive its own negotiations with G&J from more than a year ago and sewed

up the deal very quickly. NatMags’ management declined to name a figure

for the deal, which is believed to be worth several hundred million

pounds.



NatMags will take full control of G&J UK, acquiring the publisher’s

flagship titles Prima and Best as well as Your Home, Focus and Prima

Baby. Best will become NatMags’ first weekly publication, and it will

advance the company into an arena traditionally dominated by IPC.



’We’re very excited about going into the women’s weekly market,’ the

NatMags chief executive, Terry Mansfield, said. ’Best is in a great

position as one of the most upscale of those titles and we’re certainly

not interested in selling it.’



However, there is speculation that the move could lead to a cull of

niche G&J titles, such as Focus, which do not fit naturally with

NatMags’ existing stable. The deal also leaves doubts over the future of

Project Florence, G&J’s much anticipated women’s monthly which was due

to launch in the autumn. ’The issue will be whether NatMags can carve a

niche for it alongside She,’ Laura James of New PHD, which handles the

media planning and buying for G&J, said.



The move, which counters NatMags’ non-acquisitive reputation,

establishes the company as the UK’s third largest publisher behind IPC

and Emap.



It also secures the company’s position in the women’s market ahead of

the launch of BBC Worldwide’s Eve next month and Time Inc’s InStyle and

Conde Nast’s rival US import Glamour next year. Conversely, IPC’s

failure to consolidate will fuel speculation that it is itself an

acquisition target.



Media Forum, p18.



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