Hearst Agrees to Buy Elle Publisher for $893 Million

Lagardère to unload 102 magazines to U.S. publisher

Hearst announced on Monday that it has agreed to buy Elle publisher Lagardère’s U.S. magazine business. The pricetag: €651 million, or $892.78 million.

Hearst, which publishes Elle rivals like Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar and Marie Claire as well as O, The Oprah Magazine and Esquire, has been officially circling Lagardère's Hachette Filipacchi Media for more than a month.

The acquisition gives Hearst another huge advertising vehicle in women's magazine publishing — Elle instantly becomes the top ad page seller in Hearst's portfolio, and number three in terms of advertising revenue (an estimated $307.1 million in 2010) behind Good Housekeeping ($532.7 million) and Cosmo ($376.6 million).

The deal includes publishing rights to Elle in 15 countries and 10 editions of Elle Décor, as well as Woman’s Day, Car and Driver, Road & Track and Cycle World, among other titles.

During the negotiations, Lagardère was reportedly fighting to retain editorial of Elle post-sale. It’s unclear whether or not it won that fight, but Lagardère said it will "continue to oversee the brand consistency" for Elle.

In all, 102 titles in 15 countries were included, along with 50 websites and mobile sites — which generated more than $1 billion in revenue in 2010, Lagardère said. Hearst said it “anticipates significant synergies with its existing magazine business, particularly in the U.S. and U.K.” Paris-based Lagardère still owns Hachette, the book publisher.

The companies — which began exclusive negotiations on New Year’s Eve — expect the deal to close by the third quarter of 2011.

Hearst's Top Revenue-Producing Magazines in 2010
Estimated advertising revenue and ad pages (with year-over-year percentage change)

1. Good Housekeeping $532,650,159 (+4.8%) | 1,517.68 (+5.5%)
2. Cosmopolitan $376,636,893 (+9.2%) | 1,475.30 (+6.1%)
*. Elle $307,143,069 (+12.2%) | 2,287.29 (+9.8%)
3. Redbook $228,788,936 (+12.5%) | 1,437.82 (+6.6%)
4. O, The Oprah Magazine $220,985,148 (+6.3%) | 1,448.17 (+7.3%)
5. Harper's Bazaar $206,699,717 (+20.6%) | 1,794.18 (+17.8%)
6. Marie Claire $163,748,940 (+22.6%) | 1,343.59 (+19.5%)
7. Popular Mechanics $104,587,989 (+17.3%) | 786.51 (+20.4%)
8. Country Living $102,037,297 (-23.1%) | 652.74 (-25.5%)
9. Esquire $101,613,365 (+13.8%) | 830.25 (+10.8%)
10. House Beautiful $98,945,648 (+12.6%) | 710.89 (+9.4%)
11. Seventeen $98,529,439 (+3.5%) | 739.97 (+1.2%)
12. Town&Country $85,394,332 (+11.6%) | 957.97 (+7.1%)
13. Food Network Mag $51,361,779 (+174.3%) | 796.46 (+78.8%)
14. Veranda $28,487,105 (+2.0%) | 469.60 (-3.5%)

SOURCE: PIB