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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 16:20 GMT
Emap pulls out of French market
Magazines in a newsagent
Emap says its magazines reach half of the French population
Media group Emap has announced plans to say "au revoir" to its French business with the sale of its magazines there.

The Heat and Grazia publisher also vowed to return the proceeds of the sale, which analysts say could bring in as much as 400m, to shareholders.

UK-based Emap said the decision to sell the French unit, which produces 43 titles, followed a strategic review.

Stiff competition in the French market has hit sales at the division, which generates a quarter of Emap's revenues.

Tough market

While sales have slipped, revenues have also dipped amid a downturn in advertising.

We have positioned the business for growth and are now starting a process aimed at realising value
Tom Moloney, Emap

In November, Emap revealed underlying French revenues had slipped 4%, while UK revenues grew 3%.

But the company said it had now managed to stabilise the business ahead of its sell-off, which it hopes to complete in the first half of the 2006/07 financial year.

"Emap has generated significant value by growing Emap France into a leading consumer magazine publisher with a strong position in its market, an attractive portfolio of established titles and a record of successful launches," said group executive Tom Moloney.

"We have positioned the business for growth and are now starting a process aimed at realising value."

Emap said its publications - including men's magazine FHM, Sport Auto, Tele Star and Le Film Francais - reached 50% of the French population every month.

Investors welcomed the news, pushing the group's shares 28.5 pence, or 3.1%, higher to 947p in afternoon trade.

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