French-headquartered media and aerospace group Lagardère has named the US unit of British publisher Emap as a possible target in its expansion policy.

Emap announced it planned to pull-out of the American market earlier this month, citing disappointing ad revenues [WAMN: 28-Mar-01]. Up for sale are 110 titles, including Motor Trend, NFL Insider, Surfer, Hot Rod and Hunting. Analysts value the portfolio at around £450 million to £550m, a substantial loss for Emap on the £720m it paid in 1999.

Lagardère, whose titles include Paris Match and Elle, is looking to transform itself into a pure media company, and has amassed a war-chest of $1.35 billion with which to expand while share prices are depressed. Said joint chief executive Arnaud Lagardère: “In a general sense, we will look at everything in magazines and distribution. We will have to look at Emap in the United States.”

The announcement came as Lagardère unveiled 2000 net profits of 581m euros ($514m), more than double 1999’s 241m euros, thanks largely to asset sales and increased revenues from media units. Indeed, the group’s media business was its most profitable division, contributing 323m euros to a total operating profit of 572m euros.

News source: Financial Times