French media and defense conglomerate Lagardère says it is ready to shell out up to €4 billion ($5.05bn; £2.74bn) to expand its media interests.

The world's biggest magazine publisher, which owns Paris Match and Elle among others, revealed the size of its war chest to shareholders at this week's annual meeting in Paris.

But the company, which agreed a €447.7 million ($537.5m; £307.1m) deal to buy Time Warner's book publishing arm earlier this year [WAMN: 08-Feb-06] to extend its US operations, is staying zip-lipped on the matter of acquisition targets.

However, ceo Arnaud Lagardère is wary of following the traditional media industry's much travelled route towards internet investment.

He told the meeting it was necessary to be "realistic" about the dotcom sector's resurgence.

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