Profits fall forces Emap to sell flagging French division

Emap has announced it is selling off its flagging French magazine business - a decision, it said, that was made after a review of strategic investment priorities.

The announcement marks a change of strategy for the publisher. Last November, the Emap chief executive, Tom Moloney, responded to reports that the rival media company Lagardere was preparing a bid for Emap's French titles by saying that product launches were the "best way forward" for the business.

Last year, Emap revealed that profits at its French division were down by 50 per cent to £14 million. The decrease was partly attributed to Emap investing £6 million in the launch of the French version of Closer and a fall in advertising revenues across its portfolio of TV listings magazines.

Proceeds from the sale of the division will be passed on to Emap's investors.

Emap's French arm publishes around 50 magazines, including the French edition of Closer, the women's title Pleine Vie and Tele Star.

Moloney said: "Emap has generated significant value by growing Emap France into a leading consumer magazine publisher and a strong position in its market, an attractive portfolio of established titles and a record of successful launches.

"We have positioned the business for growth and are now starting a process aimed at realising value."

The publisher has appointed the financial public relations consultancy Citigroup and the bank BNP Paribas to advise on the sale of the French business.

Emap first entered the French market in 1990 through a joint venture with Bayard Press. Four years later, it grew its share of the magazine market to 10 per cent by acquiring Edition Mondiale and Hersant.

In 2003, it strengthened its hold on the marketplace by buying Excelsior Publications for £62 million.

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