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Lagardère in Talks to Sell International Magazine Unit

Discussions could lead to partnerships, joint ventures or an outright sale.

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PARIS French conglomerate Lagardère is in talks with several partners over the fate of its international magazine business, a spokeswoman for the company said.

“These are informal discussions which can result in anything from partnerships to joint ventures to an outright sale, but at this stage nothing is fixed and no time limit has been set,” she said.

Lagardère is keen to find ways to reduce costs and find synergies for its overseas business, where it has yet to achieve the critical mass it has in France.

The group will hold on to its French magazine division and plans to retain editorial control over foreign editions of Elle magazine, the spokeswoman added. She declined comment on speculation earlier this year that Hearst Corp. was interested in buying a controlling stake in Elle and its other publications in the United States.

“They are certainly one of the possible partners, but by no means the only one,” the spokeswoman said.

Lagardère’s overseas magazine business generated revenues of 700-800 million euros, or $976 million to $1.1 billion, in 2009 out of total revenues of 1.3 billion euros, or $1.8 billion, for the periodicals division as a whole. Dollar rates are calculated at average exchange rates for the period in question.