Emap set to seal auction in new year

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The Independent Online

Emap, the media company, said yesterday it was on target to complete a strategic review likely to lead to its break-up by early in the new year. Alun Cathcart, the Emap chairman leading the review, said: "When we began this process, I had in mind the end of the year for its completion, but I'm happy for it to go on into January if an auction process is needed to secure the best value for shareholders."

Mr Cathcart said Emap had received approaches from trade buyers and private equity groups for each of its consumer, business-to-business and radio businesses, but no single bidder has expressed interest in buying the whole company.

Emap's first-half results underlined the view its business-to-business unit is the group's most valuable asset. It made first-half profits of £39m, with operating profits, stripping out the effect of disposals, up by 13 per cent on the same period of 2006.

The group's consumer publishing unit struggled in the first half, with circulation declines averaging around 4 per cent, chiefly due to difficulties in the men's magazines market. Emap's radio business also had a hard first half, following a renegotiation of advertising contracts at its London stations.

Emap said it has transferred its pension scheme liabilities to Paternoster UK, one of several new companies set up in the bulk annuities market. Emap said it had made a final cash contribution to the scheme of £40m.

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