TW Sells Book Division to French Media Group

08 February 2006

Media giant Time Warner is to sell its book publishing arm to French conglomerate Lagardère.

The $537.5 million (€447.7m; £307.1) deal will give the Paris-headquartered media group the opportunity to expand its reach into the US.

Although TW does not break out its publishing unit's results, the company has said the book group earned record profit in 2005 as sales rose well above $500m.

TW chairman/ceo Richard Parsons carefully points out: "This transaction underscores our commitment to a strategy of managing closely related, industry leading businesses to maximise shareholder returns."

The deal was announced and the statement was made in advance of rebel shareholders' unveiling of their vision of TW's future.

The proposals were due to be made public in New York yesterday (Tuesday) by billionaire financier Carl Icahn and Lazard investment bank head Bruce Wasserstein.

Interventionist investors have been pushing since last summer for radical surgery at the US-headquartered company to boost stock values, which have slumped since its disastrous merger with America Online in 2000.

Wasserstein has remained zip-lipped, but industry analysts were expecting him to recommend splitting TW into three or four divisions.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff