London-headquartered publishing giant Emap has attracted four potential bidders for Petersen Group, its ailing US publishing subsidiary, put up for sale earlier this year [WAMN: 28-Mar-01].

The decision to sell was attributed to “disappointing” ad revenues, although informed onlookers believe an even more compelling reason is the cost of servicing the debt incurred on purchasing Petersen in January 1999 for $1.2 billion – a price many analysts slammed as inflated.

They appear to be right. According to insiders, Emap has hung a $600 million price tag on Petersen but would, some say, settle for $550m. According to one anonymous bidder, who has now quit the auction, even the lower price is too high – he believes it should be nearer to $450m.

The bidding quartet comprises American Media, which publishes The National Enquirer; Primedia, whose stable includes Seventeen and New York magazine; investment firm Texas Pacific Group; and AOL Time Warner.

Among Petersen’s ‘enthusiast’ titles are Skin Diver, Guns & Ammo and Snowboarder. The deal excludes Emap’s raunchy lad-mag FHM, successfully launched in the US last year.

News source: New York Times