French media group Lagardère restructures, plans sale of Elle magazine

French media group Lagardère has begun to streamline its portfolio, intending to sell its TV channels, international radio stations and magazines. It plans to keep only its audio-visual production company, radio broadcaster Europe 1, the Journal de Dimanche (JDD) magazine and the Paris Match news magazine. The news was reported by French daily Le Figaro on Wednesday, causing Lagardère's share price to rally on the Paris stock exchange.


The Elle France issue of 30th March 2018 - Elle

Le Figaro indicated that Lagardère's objective is to finalise the sales by the end of 2018 at the latest, entering into negotiations with potential buyers soon, if possible before the summer. The French group is expected to be able to generate between €400 million and €700 million from the divestments.

Besides Elle, several other magazines are up for sale, like Femina and Public, as well as websites like Doctissimo and Boursier.com, and radio and TV broadcasters RFM, Virgin Radio, Gulli and MFM.

There are several possibilities for the Elle weekly magazine. The first was a merger with Mondadori France and Marie Claire to create a single women's magazine conglomerate, but this option has reportedly fizzled out, as the interests of the various parties aren't compatible. Lagardère  would prefer an outright sale for Elle, some of whose publishing rights it already sold to US giant Hearst, but the French group would also like to sell its stake in Marie Claire, a 42% minority share which is an inconvenience for Lagardère, now that it is restructuring its portfolio.

A series of simultaneous sales are therefore on the cards over a very short period of time, a few months only. "With this scenario, the information and consultation process with the [group's] employee representatives begun last week," according to Le Figaro.

"Lagardère Active wants to reorganise itself into five independent entities, 'each endowed with its own operational and functional resources', creating [five] transferable units," wrote Denis Olivennes, the President of Lagardère Active, in an internal memo.

The Lagardère group has not made any statement for the time being.

Anaïs Lerévérend with Reuters

Translated by Nicola Mira

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