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(March 27, 2001) -- Employees of Emap PLC today received an internal e-mail memo quietly confirming that the company was exploring options for its troubled U.S. unit, Emap USA. Among the options being explored, the memo read, was "disposal of assets."

"The usual corporate ad speak," one Emap staffer told

Emap purchased its U.S. arm, then called Petersen Publishing, in 1998 for what was -- and is -- considered to be a wildly overpriced $1.2 billion. Given the current advertising slowdown, U.S. executives expect Emap USA to net a substantially lower its price this time around for the properties, which include Teen magazine and male-skewing titles like Hot Rod, Guns & Ammo and Dirt Rider.

Today, the Financial Times reported that Emap expects its full-year earnings results -- the company's fiscal year ends March 31 -- to be in line with expectations. In November, the company conceded that the U.S. was proving to be "a difficult marketplace."

Potential bidders for Emap USA include Time Inc., American Media, Hachette Filipacchi Magazines and Primieda.

Previous efforts to find a buyer for Emap USA and the U.s. division's abortive attempts earlier this year to sell Teen had been reported in the March 19 issue of Advertising Age. -- Jon Fine

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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