LONDON - Italian publisher Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, a unit of the media empire owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, has beaten off a host of rivals [WAMN: 23-May-06] to secure exclusive talks for the purchase of the French magazines unit of Britain's Emap.

Currently the third largest magazine business in France, the unit is expected to realise between £300 million ($552.8m; €437.5m) and £400m. Completion of the deal is expected in the first half of Emap's 2006-7 financial year.

The deal was confirmed Monday in a joint statement by the two parties. Emap says it will return surplus net proceeds from the sale to shareholders.