August 15-31, 2004 Edition

Lagardère Média

Poised to Enter

U.S. Market?

LONDON/08/06/204—Lagardère Média, which has just purchased UK publisher Hodder Headline for £223m from WH Smith, Plc., may be gearing up to enter the U.S. market. The huge sale places Lagardere’s Hachette Livre under the same parent umbrella with Hodder. Lagardere is a leading French media and high technology group.

Ambitious Hodder CEO Tim Hely Hutchinson assumes the additional role of chief executive of the Hachette UK Book Group. Many have called Hutchinson a brilliant administrator and publisher. Observers believe he will maintain Hodder and Hachette’s unique creative identities and probably keep sales forces separate rather than melding the two units together. Agents are reportedly happy about the deal, noting that Hachette also has a good track record of managing Orion from afar.

HarperCollins and Penguin both apparently bid on the acquisition, but Lagardere prevailed. The Lagardère Média purchase of Hodder is subject to WH Smith’s shareholders approval and to regulatory approval.

Following the acquisition of Anaya in Spain and the strengthening of its core activities in France with Larousse, Dunod, Dalloz and Armand Colin, Hachette Livre has been aiming at acquiring a strong position in the key English language markets.

Hodder Headline is the fourth largest UK publisher, ranking sixth in education, with a turnover exceeding 200 million Euros, Hodder Headline commands one of the most balanced publishing portfolios in the English speaking world, present in publishing segments similar to those of Hachette Livre: fiction and nonfiction with strong imprints and major authors such as Stephen King, John le Carré, James Patterson; and in in children’s books with trade books as well as books for school libraries ; and in education, with a significant presence in secondary textbooks, in home learning and in higher education.

In addition, Hodder Headline is established in Australia and in New Zealand, and runs its own UK distribution centre (Bookpoint).

A spokesman for Lagardère said that “With the assets acquired recently from Editis, and with Hodder Headline, we are achieving our target to rank among the very top European publishers, and we are building on the strategic development of this business, which is the backbone of the group. This constitutes evidence of the consistency and the steadiness of our strategy for a sustainable and balanced growth of our businesses.”

Hachette Livre is the top French publisher, ranking second in Spain, and is overall the sixth largest publisher worldwide with a revenue of 1,350 million Euros. A subsidiary of Lagardère Média, with Arnaud Nourry as its President, Hachette Livre is active in all segments of general book publishing, as well as other publications.