Lagardere in Talks to Sell International Magazines Unit, Including Elle

Lagardere SCA, France’s biggest publisher, is in “informal” talks that could lead to the sale of its international magazine business, whose titles include Car and Driver and Elle’s foreign editions.

The company wants to “re-center on the geographic zones where it has critical mass,” a spokeswoman for the magazines unit, Lagardere Active, said by phone. The discussions are aimed at finding “possible partnerships” and may lead to joint ventures rather than an outright sale, she said.

Lagardere, which also publishes Paris Match and Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” novels, is looking to focus on its main publishing businesses. Chief Executive Officer Arnaud Lagardere started preparations for an initial public offering of its 20 percent stake in pay-TV operator Canal Plus France and also aims to dispose of a 7.5 percent stake in aerospace company EADS NV.

Chief Financial Officer Dominique D’Hinnin said in August that Lagardere, based in Paris, had received interest from buyers for some or all of its U.S. magazine titles. As part of any disposal, Lagardere would seek to retain “editorial control” of Elle, which has more than 40 international editions, the spokeswoman said today.

Lagardere shares rose as much as 4.9 percent to 29.83 euros in Paris today, and were up 4.7 percent as of 1:35 p.m.

The Lagardere Active unit accounted for about 22 percent of the company’s sales last year, or 1.7 billion euros.

In addition to publishing, Arnaud has pushed into sports marketing and athlete representation through a new unit, Lagardere Unlimited. In May, the company announced the acquisition of Best, a U.S. sports agency with clients including basketball player Rafer Alston. It also took a minority stake in Saddlebrook, a sports academy in Florida.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Campbell in Paris at mcampbell39@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vidya Root at vroot@bloomberg.net.

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