Lagardère SCA announces the signature on December 12 , 2006 of an agreement to acquire 75.2% of the shares and voting rights of Newsweb, one of France’s leading web content producers, at a price of €24.70 per share. This represents a premium of 10.5% over the 1-month average share price and of 17.7% over the 6-month average share price, and values 100% of Newsweb at €74 million.
In accordance with French stock market regulations, Lagardère will file a standing market offer proposal with the Autorité des Marchés Financiers for the remaining Newsweb shares not acquired under the agreement at €24.70 per share, the same price as for the controlling interest.
This acquisition increases the Lagardère Group’s footprint in fast-growing new media activities. The deal fits with the Group’s long-term strategy of accelerating its presence and expertise in digital content.
In 2005, Newsweb reported revenues of €6.7 million and EBITDA of €1.5 million (on a proforma basis). In the first half of 2006, the company generated EBITDA of close to €1.3 million on revenues of €4.3 million. Newsweb sells real-time information produced by its in-house editorial staff and monetizes the traffic generated by its websites (including a variety of blogs), in three areas: sport, cars and the stock market.
The company operates five websites: Sports.fr, Sport4fun.com, Football.fr, Autonews.fr and Boursier.com. In the first half of 2006, 57% of revenues came from the sale of advertising space on the company’s websites, and 43% from the sale of content to third-party distributors such as web portals and sites, telecoms operators, the press and interactive television. In the 10 months to October 2006, the five websites had cumulative audience figures of 22.4 million unique visitors (2.4 million in October 2006).
Newsweb’s activities complement the Lagardère Group’s businesses in three areas:
- Content: Newsweb enhances the offering of several of Lagardère’s press and digital assets, including Onze Mondial (football), Auto Moto, Europe 1 (sport and stock market), JDD and Paris Match;
- Advertising sales agency: Newsweb will augment Lagardere’s digital offering;
- Digital expertise: the know-how, skills sets and technical/commercial franchises brought in by the Newsweb teams will boost Lagardère’s push into the production and commercialization of digital content.
The principal shareholders of Newsweb are its founders, plus a number of institutional investors, most of whom have backed the company since it was formed. Newsweb has been listed on Alternext since January 23, 2006, and its shares were transferred to the public offer category on August 4, 2006.
Lagardère was advised by BNP Paribas (financial) and Bredin Prat and Fidal (legal).
The Lagardère Group is a market leader in the media sector (books, distribution/retail, press and audiovisual).
The Group also has interests in the high technology sector via a 14.87% stake in EADS.The reference market for Lagardère shares is Euronext Paris (Eurolist – compartment A).