New Emap chief prepares for £400m splash on acquisitions

Tom Moloney said that the money, in the form of committed bank facilities, gives Emap room for manoeuvre in the expected merger "free-for-all" later this year, when restrictions on media ownership are relaxed.

He told The Independent on Sunday that he aimed to keep the business intact, rather than aim for a break-up, which is favoured by some analysts.

He also said he wanted to make small acquisitions, and has over £400m available to do it. "There's not very much we couldn't do," he said, adding that he is looking for trade magazines, French consumer titles and also opportunities in radio.

Emap owns many consumer magazines, such as Smash Hits, Heat, Q and FHM. It also has trade magazines like Nursing Times, musical TV channels and the radio brands Kiss and Magic. Mr Moloney said Emap will not be rushing into any new deals. Lessons have been learned after a bad decision to move into the US with the £1bn acquisition of Petersen, a publisher, in 1998.

The ownership of media businesses is tightly controlled, but restrictions will be loosened when the Communications Bill passes through Parliament later this year.

"We are just in the market for bolt-on acquisitions," said Mr Moloney. "In areas such as business to business and consumer magazines in France, we are always looking at opportunities." He also said cashflow was strong, and by the end of the financial year there could be another £50m to play with.

Mr Moloney has worked at Emap for more than 20 years. He is currently chief operating officer and will step into the shoes of departing chief Robin Miller later this month.

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