Associated Press sells French language service

Sat Dec 15, 2007 8:04am EST

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PARIS Dec 15 (Reuters) - U.S. news agency Associated Press is to sell its French language service to a group led by a former Agence France Presse executive with the financial backing of French investment group Bollore (BOLL.PA).

In a statement late on Friday, AP said it wanted to focus its business in France, "as elsewhere in the world", on producing text in English, as well as pictures and television.

AP said former AFP chief executive Bertrand Eveno, 63, "associated with Bollore Media", would be the majority investor in a new agency, comprising its former French language service.

The agency would have exclusive distribution rights in France to AP's English news and photos. It would also have a licence to translate AP's English language stories, it said.

The statement said finalisation of the deal was subject to the compulsory consultation of AP French staff representatives. Terms were not disclosed.

AP competes with Reuters RTR.L, which has its own French language service, in supplying news to media outlets around the world.

(Reporting by Nick Antonovics)

((nicholas.antonovics@reuters.com; +33149495182; Reuters messaging: nicholas.antonovics.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: FRANCE ASSOCIATEDPRESS/

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