Emap pays £52.5m for Cannes Lions ad festival

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The Independent Online

EMAP, the radio and magazines group, has bought the advertising industry's Oscars, the Cannes Lions annual festival, for £52.5m.

EMAP, the radio and magazines group, has bought the advertising industry's Oscars, the Cannes Lions annual festival, for £52.5m.

The Cannes Lions Festival is the advertising industry's leading annual conference and awards ceremony. It provides an opportunity for those in the industry to meet, exchange opinions, drink and sun themselves on the French Riviera.

The top award at this year's conference, held in June, went to an advert by the London office of the agency TBWA. Called "Mountain", the advert was for Sony's PlayStation video games consoleand featured hundreds of people clambering on top of each other to reach the mountain's peak and features the tag line "Fun, anyone?"

In buying the festival, from the French entrepreneur Roger Hatchuel, Emap is hoping to grow the media part of its business-to-business division, Emap Communications, to the same size as its healthcare and retail sections. The media industry activities already include Broadcast, a weekly television and radio magazine, and Screen International, the film industry magazine, and account for about 9 per cent of Emap Communications' revenues. Emap Communications is already the UK's largest provider of business exhibitions.

Cannes Lions makes money through fees charged to entrants to the awards, attendance fees for delegates and the sales of DVDs of clips from the awards' short-list. This year its pre-tax profit is expected to be about £7m.

The festival usually attracts up to 8,000 industry figures, and is increasingly being used by advertisers, such as Procter & Gamble, to meet and mingle with agencies. Emap's finance director, Gary Hughes, said, "nothing quite rivals this event" and announced that Emap would be instigating a new Creative Design Award. Mr Hughes expects Cannes Lions to add 1.5 to 2 per cent to Emap's earnings-per-share in its first full year of trading. However, this year's group profits will be slightly "adversely affected" by the acquisition, he said, as this year's event is already over.

Although Emap is best known for its consumer magazine titles, including FHM and Heat, and its radio business, dominated by Kiss and Magic, it is also home to more than 200 business publications, events and conferences, which provide about one-third of its profits.

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