Reed Elsevier revs up media clearance in £40m French sale

REED Elsevier, the FTSE 100 media group, has sold its French unit for around £40m as it attempts to reduce its exposure to the volatile market for consumer publications.

Edmond de Rothschild Group, the Swiss fund manager, and the private equity arm of BNP Paribas have purchased 75 per cent of Reed Business Information (RBI) France, with the remaining 25 per cent going to management.

RBI France includes magazines such as Cosmetique and Coiffure, which are among some of Reed Elsevier’s last consumer titles, as well as certain business-focused units. The firm has been steadily selling businesses including Hollywood trade magazine Variety in recent months as it focuses on the more stable business publishing and textbook units, which are less reliant on the volatile advertising market. It also sold off its Australian media operations at the start of the year.

Reed Elsevier’s business is now built around divisions such as the LexisNexis database as well as medical textbooks like Gray’s Anatomy.

The move appears to have paid off for chief executive Erik Engstrom, who revealed a 25 per cent rise in profits in March.

Reed Elsevier did not disclose the value of the RBI France deal, although a source close to the company put it at around £40m.