The Pace of Magazine Consolidation Hots Up
Last week, Hearst Corporation made a "binding offer" for Lagardère's international magazine business, operated under their overseas publishing subsidiary, Hachette Filipacchi.The deal includes the sale of 102 titles, including Red and Psychologies, as well as a licensing agreement for fashion magazine Elle. Legal processes will delay the completion of the sale until the third quarter of this year.There's no suggestion at present that titles will be culled - in fact, the attractiveness of the acquisition was that the portfolios of Hearst's NatMags and Lagardère's Hachette Filipacchi were largely complementary rather than competing.However, the deal will strengthen Natmag's presence in key sectors. Harpers Bazaar and Elle - the number 2 and 3 titles behind Conde Nast's Vogue in the fashion sector - and Red and Good Housekeeping, 2 of strongest titles in the women's lifestyle sector, will now be brought together under one publisher.And this is not likely to be the last we'll hear of magazine publishing consolidation. Hearst was eyeing a stake in BBC's magazine portfolio prior to this purchase and the BBC's hunt for a publishing partner, whilst retaining editorial control over their titles, continues. Bauer, publishers of Grazia, are rumoured to be amongst the favourites.For advertisers, the repercussions of all this consolidation are unclear. Although communications will be more straightforward and coordination of promotions and campaigns across titles will become easier, publishers will no doubt have their eyes on the possibility of increasing ad rates with greater market share under their control.It's unlikely we'll see any impact this year but advertisers will need to keep a close eye on developments over the coming 12 months.