IPC and Emap open to bids

Publishers IPC and Emap are under the cosh. IPC could soon be put up for sale by majority owner Cinven, while Emap’s abortive US play has also left it vulnerable to bids.

IPC, the consumer magazine publisher, has denied it is to be sold by Cinven after unveiling its half year results. Meanwhile, publisher Emap, whose CEO has just resigned, is a possible bid target.

Cinven, which owns 56 per cent of IPC, bought the group three years ago from Reed Elsevier for £900m. sources close to Cinven say this was a high price to pay for what is a pretty ragged business. IPC, which publishes titles including Woman's Weekly and What's On TV, has since been restructured.

However, IPC insists it is master of its own destiny. “Cinven agreed a three to five year timescale for an exit,” said an IPC spokeswoman. “IPC will decide when to go for an exit. And there is no rush.”

IPC has seen advertising on country titles such as Horse and Hound and the Shooting Times hit by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Turnover last year rose by 3.3 per cent to £182.4m and pre-tax profits came to £3.82m.

For its part, Emap is rocking after posting heavy pre-tax losses of £527m. The previous year, it made £157m. Turnover grew by 5 per cent to £1.15bn.

CEO Kevin Hand resigned after seeing his attempt to gain Emap a place in the US publishing market founder. Robin Miller, previously chairman, has taken over the helm. The company is now looking to sell its US business, Petersen, which it bought in 1999 for £720m. Emap has since written down Petersen’s value by £545m. The publisher also said that radio revenues were fragile, US advertising continued to be weak and French advertising was unpredictable.

However, no bidders for either company have yet expressed an interest.