Hearst Magazines Completes Acquisition of Hachette Filipacchi Magazines U.S.

By Steve Cohn

Today (May 31), Hearst Corp. CEO Frank A. Bennack, Jr., announced the closing of the U.S. portion of the company’s approximately 640 million Euros ($919 million) purchase of Lagardère SCA’s non-French magazine properties. Specifically, Elle, Elle Decor, Car & Driver, Cycle World, Road & Track and Woman’s Day–the six magazines owned by Lagardère’s Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. unit–become part of Hearst Magazines.

Announcement is the partial culmination of Lagardère’s Jan. 31 acceptance of Hearst’s binding offer. Concurrently, Hearst closed on its purchase of Lagardère magazine properties in nine other countries (including Canada, Italy, Mexico, Japan and Spain), with the closures in Russia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom "expected to be completed shortly." Regulatory approvals account for the delays there and in China, where completion is expected later this year.

In the U.S., Hearst Magazines gets publishing rights "in perpetuity" to Elle (fashion) and Elle Decor (home/design), which will align the former with Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire and the latter with House Beautiful and Veranda. Plus outright ownership of Woman’s Day complements HM’s Good Housekeeping and Redbook while Car and Driver/Cycle World/Road & Track (also owned outright) should produce advertising packages with HM men’s-targeted Popular Mechanics and, to a lesser extent, Esquire.

How this all will be blended remains to be seen. In a staff memo, Bennack and HM president David Carey said that the goal is to move the former HFM properties into New York’s Hearst Tower "within six to nine months."  Among executives, Elle publisher Kevin Martinez is the former Harper’s Bazaar associate publisher and tomorrow (June 1), Martinez’s 2002-2010 Elle predecessor Carol Smith starts as Harper’s Bazaar publisher.

With the HFM properties, Hearst Magazines becomes the second largest U.S. magazine publisher (30.4 million circulation) after Time Inc.