Hachette Filipacchi, the French publishing group, is understood to be about to buy British publisher Attic Futura, whose titles include teen successes Sugar and B, for around £40m. The business is being sold by Pacific Magazine Publishers, the Australian group that has been trying to offload the British business for more than a year. Originally it agreed a £55m deal to sell Attic Futura to IPC before the UK magazines group was bought by AOL Time Warner last year.
H Bauer, the German firm, was also interested but pulled out of the bidding when IPC agreed a deal.
The deal for Attic Futura will be the first purchase by Hachette in the UK and follows the hiring of Kevin Hand as the head of its British business. Mr Hand was previously chief executive of Emap but resigned from the British publishing group after its disastrous foray into US pub- lishing, which left it nursing a loss of more than £400m.
Industry sources say the deal is significant as it will give Hachette a standalone presence in the women's publishing market in the UK. Up to now its interests have purely been though partnerships: it has a deal with IPC to publish Marie Claire, and with Emap in a highly successful venture whose titles include Elle, Red and New Woman.
In both these alliances, Hachette owns the rights to the titles and would be able to cancel the deal with its British partners. The French group has denied it would walk away from its deals with IPC and Emap, but the future of the businesses is a source of great speculation.
Emap is still seeking a permanent replacement for Mr Hand. Chairman Robin Miller stepped into the breach last year but has signalled he will retire in the next few months.
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