LVMH in Talks to Buy French Newspaper Group

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said Thursday that it has entered into an exclusive negotiation process with Pearson that may lead to the sale of Groupe Les Echos, Pearson’s French financial publishing division, to LVMH.

A meeting of the workers committee of La Tribune, which is owned by LVMH, will be convened in order to analyze the consequences of this process, LVMH said in a statement. 

The International Herald Tribune reported that Journalists at the newspaper Les Echoswalked out of the newsroom Tuesday, stopping publication of Wednesday editions, when the French newspaper Le Monde reported that Bernard Arnault, LVMH chief executive, had offered 250 million euros ($335 million) for Groupe Les Echos. Journalists at Les Echos contend that editorial integrity could be threatened by a sale to Arnault, the Herald Tribune reports.

Should the transaction proceed, LVMH said it intends to invest in Groupe Les Echos and grow its leading French business and financial titles.

“LVMH has always considered editorial independence as being of the utmost importance as it contributes to the credibility, legitimacy, and success of any newspaper,” LVMH said in its statement. “If the sale of Les Echos takes place, LVMH would include specific provisions in the agreement to ensure this editorial independence.”

In addition to Les Echos, Groupe Les Echos includes Les, a leading Web site of economic media, Enjeux and other specialist financial services.

In 2006, Groupe Les Echos sales reached 126 million euros ($168.8 million) and contributed to the operating profit of Pearson at a level of 10 million euros ($13.4 million).

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