Time Inc. and Hachette Filipacchi interested in Mexico’s Expansion

Expansion was engaged in talks with about five international media groups, but recently narrowed the field of candidates down to Hachette, a unit of French publishing concern Lagardere SCA, and Time Inc., owned by New York's Time Warner Inc.

The company, which publishes Mexico's top business magazine Expansion and leading celebrity title Quien, as well as 13 other magazines directed at the Mexican market, is expected to fetch about $60 million.

Grupo Editorial Expansion, which is backed by CDP Capital International, the subsidiary of Montreal-based Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec, had annual sales of about $50 million last year, with its two biggest magazines, Expansion and Quien, accounting for about $20 million. Its top seven titles have a combined monthly circulation of 730, 000.

An acquisition would give Time Warner or Hachette a bigger footing in the Mexican media market. Consumer demand in Mexico has grown steadily in recent years, amid stable economic conditions.

Some of Expansion's titles, like Quien, could also easily be marketed to the growing Hispanic market in the U.S. or to other parts of Latin America. Expansion's chief executive, John Reuter, is an American who, who headed strategic planning for Latin America for Time Inc.

Hachette already produces two titles for the Mexican market in association with Expansion: the Mexican version of Elle magazine and Quo.

Publishing powerhouse Grupo Editorial Televisa is Expansion's main rival in the Mexican publishing market. In mid-2002, Televisa launched Conozca Más, a magazine similar to Quo in content and design. The competition between Televisa and Expansión increased in intensity in 2002 when Televisa launched the high-society gossip magazine Caras. Caras's main competitor is Quién.