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Time Warner sells book group

The publisher of authors like Nelson DeMille and James Patterson will be bought by Lagardere.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 23:17 IST

Time Warner Inc. is selling its book publishing division to the French media and defence conglomerate Lagardere SCA for $537.5 million (€448.6 million), the companies announced Monday. Time Warner Book Group is the fifth-largest U.S. book publisher, with a stable of writers that includes Nelson DeMille and James Patterson. Its major imprints include Warner Books and Little, Brown.

Following the purchase, Largardere's book publishing unit will become the third largest worldwide. The companies said the purchase was part of Lagardere's strategy of building a portfolio of book publishing in French, English and Spanish.

In addition to publishing books, Lagardere owns Hachette Filipacchi, publisher of magazines including Elle, Premiere and Car & Driver.

Time Warner, the world's biggest media company, has been trimming down its diverse portfolio in recent years, including the sale of its music company Warner Music Group. It is also facing pressure from activist shareholder Carl Icahn to restructure the company in hopes of boosting its share price. Among its other holdings are HBO, CNN, Warner Bros. and Time magazine.

Time Warner's book division has done well in recent years, with big sellers including late-night comedian Jon Stewart's America (The Book) and Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian. Time Warner's CEO Dick Parsons said in a statement that the company's book group was "at the top of its game," with record profits in 2005, but needs the "scale and other advantages that come from being part of a larger, more global book publisher." Parsons said the deal underscored the company's commitment to managing "closely related, industry-leading businesses to maximize shareholder returns."

Icahn is expected to present more details on his effort to get changes made at Time Warner on Tuesday, when he will present the findings of a study being done by the investment bank Lazard Ltd. Following the sale of its book unit, Time Warner will retain a large stable of magazines under its Time Inc. umbrella, including Sports Illustrated, People and InStyle.