Lagardere rules out print media acquisitions in '09

PARIS, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Lagardere Active LAGA.PA has no plans to make acquisitions in print media in 2009 but will continue to look for opportunities to expand in Internet, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

Didier Quillot, head of the Lagardere Active unit, which pools the Lagardere group press and broadcast activities, also told a news conference that overall the magazines portfolio should show “slight growth” in 2008.

Quillot was speaking at a presentation on the group’s magazines business in France.

“There are no acquisition plans in print media in France or outside France,” Quillot said when asked about 2009.

The Lagardere group is the world’s biggest publisher of consumer magazines, which include Elle and Paris Match.

In France alone where the group publishes 33 titles, 34 million people read at least one Lagardere publication, slides distributed at the meeting showed.

Under a three-year restructuring plan Quillot launched in 2006, Lagardere group merged its magazine, Internet and radio activities, and closed down unprofitable publications to boost margins and rekindle growth.

Asked if the magazines portfolio in France was now stabilised, Quillot said: “not completely”.

“We need to make sure that all the magazines are on growth sectors and take measures if it is not the case,” he said.

Some 62 percent of the group’s magazines portfolio in France was now positioned in growth sectors and 80 percent in sectors that were either growing or nearly flat, he said.

Growth sectors range from high-end women magazines to lifestyle and people magazines.

Last month the Lagardere group confirmed a forecast for 2008 underlying operating profit growth ranging between 3 percent and 7 percent which assumes a euro-dollar exchange rate of $1.50.

“The operating income of the media business will again increase this year...It will increase between 2008 and 2007 and that despite a difficult economic climate,” Quillot said on Tuesday. He would not give further details. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Andy Bruce)