Emap Considers Complete Or Partial Sale; Break-Up Likely

After repeatedly stating it was not an option, U.K. magazine publisher Emap (LSE: EMA.L) has put itself up for sale. It just announced it has called in Citi and Lazard, “in response to various unsolicited proposals,” to conduct a review of all options, including a partial or complete sale. The company is still without a CEO after Tom Maloney was removed in May amid a 13 percent drop in annual profits and has since been restructuring by selling off its Irish radio stations, French exhibitions unit and half of its TV business. Analysts put a £11.20 ($22.91) value on shares, making the company worth up to £2.4 billion ($4.9 billion). Shares opened Friday at £8.25 ($16.76) and were up more than 13 percent this afternoon.

Emap operates websites for some 137 magazine, radio and B2B brands — the current strategy is to consolidate some of those into super-destinations for themes like fashion, construction, golf and homes. Digital revenue grew 32 percent in the last fiscal year. The company last month confirmed it had held talks about combining radio assets with U.K. commercial radio leader GCap, which is this year investing £2.1 million in station websites, only to rule it out. At the hefty analysts’ estimate for the whole group, if Emap now chooses to focus on its core magazine business, could the radio unit be up for grabs again? It would be surprising if most digital assets didn’t remain allied to the consumer magazine business.

Update: The market likes it. Shares in Emap closed up 12.38 percent at £8.50 ($17.39) in London this afternoon.