Time Warner Sells Book Group

Lagardere of France scoops up the prize.
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Time Warner

(TWX)

agreed to sell Time Warner Book Group to Lagardere Book Publishing for $537 million.

France's Lagardere said the move will make it the No. 3 publisher worldwide. "This is a major step in fulfilling a Lagardere objective to create a balanced portfolio in three main languages, French, English and Spanish," it said.

"This is a terrific transaction that is the right thing to do for both the Time Warner Book Group and our shareholders," said Time Warner chief Dick Parsons. "With its record-breaking performance in 2005, the Book Group is at the top of its game. To build on this success, however, it needs the scale and other advantages that come from being part of a larger, more global book publisher.

"This transaction also underscores our commitment to a strategy of managing closely related, industry-leading businesses to maximize shareholder returns," Parsons added.

Time Warner Book Group is a major trade publisher, with bestselling authors including Nelson DeMille, Nicholas Sparks, James Patterson, David Baldacci and Malcolm Gladwell. Besides adult trade, it publishes illustrated, religious and children's books and has also developed an audio-book imprint.

Time Warner Book Group also operates in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, positioning the Lagardere Book Publishing unit, with Arnaud Nourry as President and CEO, as a leading publisher in each of these three countries.

On Monday, Time Warner shares rose 15 cents to $18.55.