New blow for Emap as brain behind hit magazines sets up rival company

David Hepworth, the brains behind some of Emap's most successful magazines, including Heat, Q and Smash Hits, has joined former Emap managing director, David Arculus, to take on the consumer publishing group on its home turf.

The duo are raising money for a magazine launch expected in the new year. The publication is expected to be entertainment based and will be a glossy, monthly title. It is understood that they have already raised more than £1m for the venture.

Mr Hepworth has been with Emap for more than 20 years – initially working on Smash Hits before launching the successful Q and Mojo titles. Recently he was the brains behind Heat, which was confirmed last week as the fastest growing magazine in the UK.

Mr Arculus left Emap five years ago after a row about succession. He joined United News & Media briefly, before becoming chairman of consumer publisher IPC, which he sold to AOL Time Warner.

Robin Miller, Emap's chief executive, said the company was aware of Mr Hepworth's venture and had discussed it with him.

"We don't think it'll be directly competitive and David [Hepworth] will continue to do some work for us," he said.

Neither Mr Hepworth nor Mr Arculus were available for comment.

The news of the venture could be the second substantial blow to Emap's consumer side in a week.

As previously predicted by The Independent on Sunday, French publisher Hachette has given notice that it will terminate its joint venture with Emap.

Hachette will retain Elle, Elle Decoration and Elle Girl while Emap will have New Woman and Top Santé.

There is a dispute about the future of the most successful title in the venture, Red, where it is not clear which company owns the rights.

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