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Business magazines look overseas for growth

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The big three U.S. business publications have been stepping up their efforts to penetrate overseas markets and expand their brands.

In the last several weeks, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes and Fortune have given the green light to both global editions and local-language magazines in Europe and the Middle East.

  • Bloomberg Businessweek said late last month that it is introducing a Polish-language edition of the magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek Polska. The biweekly publication, being published in partnership with Point Group Business Unit, is set to debut this fall. It will have an initial circulation of 20,000 and feature content from Bloomberg's 2,300 journalists worldwide, including those in its Warsaw bureau.
  • Fortune last month rolled out local Arabic-language editions in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The monthly publications, with a combined initial circulation of 18,500, will be followed by an additional five local editions scheduled to debut in 2012, including in Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
  • In May Forbes Media debuted Forbes in Europe, an English-language edition of Forbes. The biweekly publication is aimed at 20,000 C-level and other senior executives in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  • Reed Phillips, managing partner at media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips, said the publishers' investments in foreign markets seem like good bets that don't carry much risk. “The advertising market has come back pretty strongly in the U.S., and I think U.S. publishers are feeling that it's time to reinvest in the business; and the international market is one growth area where it makes a lot of sense to be spending the money,” he said.

    With the addition of seven local editions in Arabic, Fortune will publish a total of 13 foreign-language editions, including those in China, India, Indonesia and Korea. Fortune's Middle East editions are being distributed through a licensing agreement between Time Inc., which publishes Fortune, and AWI Co.

    “The Middle East, although thought of as one territory, is obviously not one country. There are different cultures and different specifics to the economies, so that's why we don't go in with a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Jed Hartman, group publisher of Fortune and corporate sibling CNNMoney.

    Paul Bascobert, president of Bloomberg Businessweek and head of business operations for Bloomberg Media Group, said: “The question for us is [in] which markets do we want to have our global edition and [in] which markets do we want to have a local-language edition. In certain markets, we feel like we're better to partner with people on the ground, and [the publication] is best served through local advertising.”

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