Emap to spend $20m on `lad mag' launch in the US

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EMAP, THE media company whose best-selling magazines include Elle, Arena, The Face and Red, yesterday said it would spend $20m (pounds 12.35m) over the next three years on launching its popular FHM "lad mag" in the US.

The group also announced plans to spend pounds 1m on reorganising its UK and French operations into market-focused, rather than media-focused, divisions.

Kevin Hand, Emap's chief executive, said the FHM (For Him Magazine) formula, which includes features such as "The Top 100 Sexiest Women", would have to be altered to suit the US sense of humour and tastes. But he would not be pressed on whether this would mean bringing the magazine's editorial downmarket. The first US issue is due to hit the stands in February next year. FHM sales were down 9.6 per cent year on year in the six months to June 1999, according to figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Mr Hand said the group's "progress and change" programme will replace the consumer magazines and radio divisions with four new multi-media units focusing on the motor industry, music, lifestyle and healthcare. The group has dedicated fashion construction units and Mr Hand said he expects more divisions to evolve.

The new organisation will mirror the structure of the Petersen, the US publishing group which Emap acquired for $1.5bn at the start of the year. Emap Petersen contributed profits of pounds 21.9m and revenues of pounds 130.5m in the first half.

Emap, which also owns the radio station Kiss FM and The Box, a digital television channel, said it plans to develop more television stations.

Referring to Emap's recent sale of 20 non core assets, such as its 18.95 per cent interest in Metal Bulletin, Mr Hand said: "That is the end of our disposals for now." He said the group's investment budget for the year was expected to reach pounds 27m, of which about a third will be invested in digital projects.

Emap reported pre-tax, normalised profits for the first half of pounds 89.1m, up 17 per cent. Revenues for the six months to 30 September were up 34 per cent at pounds 548.5m and underlying pre-tax profits rose by 10 per cent. The company will pay an interim dividend of 6.1p, up 12 per cent from the previous year.

Analysts say the results beat expectations and are forecasting full year profits of pounds 184m to pounds 188m.

Emap shares closed up 80p at 970p.