French conglomerate Lagardere is to sell over 100 magazine titles to the publisher of Cosmopolitan, Hearst Corporation, for 651 million euros ($887 million).
The sale covers 102 titles in 15 countries, including Car and Driver and Women's Day in the U.S., and is part of Lagardere's attempt to shed weak businesses and seek growth elsewhere. Exclusive talks began a month ago with privately-owned Hearst.
Lagardere will keep control of its women's title Elle, while licensing it to Hearst for use in certain countries. Hearst's top titles include Esquire, Cosmopolitan, and Harper's Bazaar.
By quitting the United States, Lagardere will refocus on France and shed activities that brought in about 40 percent of its media revenue in 2010, but less than 5 percent of operating profit. Lagardere expects the sale to close by the third quarter of 2011.
Together with the sale of weak assets and minority stakes, Lagardere recovery plan involves investing in its new sports marketing division and focusing on its core media businesses.
To that end, Lagardere is also planning an initial public offering in the first half of this year of its minority stake in French pay-TV channel Canal Plus, which is controlled by Vivendi.