Emap Sells Consumer, Radio Units To Bauer, Focuses On B2B

Emap (LSE: EMA) will sell its consumer magazines and radio divisions to H. Bauer for £1.14 billion, it announced in the early hours of this morning. Two caveats – shareholders must approve the sale in a January meeting, while the sale of the radio unit is conditional on the completion of the 200 million euro (£135 million) sale of Emap’s Irish radio stations to Communicorp, announced in July. It’s a coup for Bauer – the publisher best known for its cheap, mass-market women’s and and puzzles magazines like Take A Break and TV Quick will now control some 61 magazine/online/TV brands including FHM and Heat. Many had expected dedicated broadcast bidders to get the radio unit. It’s a debt-free acquisition, too, worth over 11 times Emap’s 2007 operating profit (full announcement here).

Online: Online-only operations in Emap’s consumer portfolio had, until recently, only included tickets agency Aloud.com and user content enabler Yospace it bought for £8.7 million in February. But the publisher this year appointed a number of digital directors and beefed up Today’s Golfer and Motorcycle News. Emap also this year decided to aggregate similar but separate magazine brands under thematic online portals, starting with Ask A Mum (for Mother & Baby and Pregnancy & Birth magazines) and Go Fishing (for its six fishing mags), with six more such portals planned for next year. One immediate possibility is that Bauer’s women-oriented magazines could now join its female-centric web portals. Emap digital revenue rose to £11 million for the latest half year, representing a quarter of group revenue.

B2B: Emap will keep its business-to-business publishing division and will now “be a focused B2B business”. It bought retail and food online industry news source Planet Retail for £23 million in August and the Infrastructure Journal online construction news publisher Torcello Publishing for £20 million in July.
Despite having been seen as the most lucrative part of the business, latest half-year earnings showed the division’s revenue was flat, with operating profit down seven percent.