Media giant Emap looks set to sell its Emap France subsidiary to Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, an Italian publishing firm.
The two firms announced the proposed sale this morning, saying that negotiations were currently underway to settle the price. A consultation process with French workers' councils has also begun, Emap said, "in accordance with applicable French employment law".
"Subject to the outcome of the consultation process and the conclusion of a sale and purchase agreement, the sale is expected to be completed in the first half of the group's 2006/07 financial year," Emap said in a statement.
"As previously announced, it is intended that surplus net proceeds from the sale will be returned to shareholders as soon as practicable."
Emap, which runs a variety of regional radio stations, magazines and business to business media products, recorded a seven per cent increase in its profits before tax last year. Despite this growth the group will be relieved to divest itself of its French subsidiary, which did not make a profit.
Alan Broadbent, Emap's chairman, said in the group's annual report that Emap France had suffered from a combination of "tough trading competition" and "aggressive competition".
Emap France publishes more than 40 magazines for the French consumer market, ranging from specialist interest titles such as France Golf and Science et Vie to its flagship brands, including the French edition of FHM and the popular Telestar.