Hearst in £560m 'binding offer' for Lagardère's titles

Hearst Corporation has made a “binding offer” of €651m (£560m) to take over the international press and magazine businesses run by Lagardère, which owns UK publisher Hachette Filipacchi.

The deal will see Hearst, owner of The National Magazine Company, take control of 102 Lagardère print titles in 15 countries around the world and extensive digital operations, including 50 websites and numerous mobile and tablet apps.

The deal will see Heart take ownership of Woman’s Day, Car and Driver, Road & Track and Cycle World in the US, Red magazine in the UK and Holland and a string of other significant monthly and weekly titles in major markets from the French company.

Significantly, today’s announcement by Hearst confirmed that it would also assume the licensing rights to Lagardère’s flagship title Elle in the US, Russia & Ukraine, Italy, Spain, the UK, China, Japan, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Mexico, Taiwan, Canada and Germany.

In addition, publishing rights to the ten editions of Elle spin-off Elle Décor currently published internationally will also pass to Hearst.

Lagardère said this morning the two companies had extended an exclusivity period that existed between them and expected the deal to be completed by the third quarter of the year, subject to some regulatory approvals in some countries.

Once the deal is complete Lagardère will receive an annual royalty payment for licensing the Elle brand, which based on current figures, would be worth €70m (£60m) after tax.

The deal will see Lagardère retain, in some European countries, real estate assets, currently used by the international magazine business, worth around €30m (£26m).

Lagardère announced last month that it intended to sell its international magazine business and focus on domestic publishing. It then entered exclusive talks with Hearst over the sale of its international press and magazine businesses on New Year’s Eve.

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