One of the nation's biggest magazine publishers may be bought out by a rival, as Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. parent company Lagardere weighs an offer from Hearst Corp., according to multiple reports. A Hachette buyout would bring Hearst possession of flagship fashion title Elle, as well as auto enthusiast titles including Car and Driver and women's interest titles like Woman's Day.
The news comes just a day after Hachette executives revealed that the company was for sale, confirming rumors that had been circulating for months.
Hachette and Hearst already have a working relationship with their joint venture to publish Marie Claire, and had previously discussed forming new joint ventures to publish Elle and Elle Décor, but these discussions transitioned into a wider-ranging discussion of a possible buyout, according to the New York Post, which reported that Lagardere is asking over $500 million for Hachette.
One of the issues that must be addressed is the editorial direction of Elle's U.S. edition; Lagardere publishes a number of overseas editions, which often draw on content from the U.S. edition. The Paris-based publisher has indicated it wants to maintain some editorial control over the U.S. edition for that reason.
There have been some major shakeups in the top ranks at Hachette in recent months, with former president Alain Lemarchand replaced by Steve Parr (previously of Source Interlink) in September. Like other big consumer magazine publishers, Hachette contended with the economic downturn, but some of its leading titles have appeared to stabilize in 2010.
In the first nine months of the year, Elle saw ad pages increase 8.9% to 1,548, according to the Publishers Information Bureau, while Elle Décor is up 24.9% to 667 ad pages. Car and Driver is up 4% to 608 ad pages, while Woman's Day is basically flat with a 0.7% increase to 1,053.