DOWNWARD TREND: French media group Lagardère reported first-half sales dipped 1.8 percent to 3.3 billion euros, or $3.69 billion.

Net sales at the firm’s multimedia division Lagardère Active were 437 million euros, or $488.2 million, up 0.7 percent compared with first-half 2014. The division was positively impacted by the acquisition of the Spanish TV production group Grupo Boomerang TV on May 28, offsetting the disposal of 10 magazines, including women’s title Be and Psychologies, in July 2014.

Dollar figures are converted at average exchange rates for the period to which they refer.

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Lagardère magazine revenues in France fell 4.7 percent. The country’s largest magazine publisher said this was due both to a sharp contraction in the print advertising market, which retreated 6.5 percent in the first half, and a decline in circulation, which fell 7.1 percent. Soft magazine sales were partly offset by growth in other activities, particularly in digital, that rose 19 percent.

“The magazine and newspapers [business] is down, in the print form,” said Lagardère chief financial officer Dominique D’Hinnin during a conference call on Thursday evening.

The financial impact of the divestment of the 10 publications was 10 million euros, or $11.2 million, in the first half. That was offset by cuts in costs, worth 12 million euros, or $13.4 million, D’Hinnin added.

“We’ll maintain the yearly cost-cutting between 20 and 25 million euros [or $21.8 and $27.3 million at current exchange] in the coming years,” said Denis Olivennes, chief executive officer of Lagardère Active. Olivennes also estimated the advertising market will be down 4 percent this year.

Lagardère, the publisher of the “Fifty Shades” saga in France, released the fourth tome on Tuesday.

“We sold 100,000 copies in a single day. We are confident it will positively impact the second half,” D’Hinnin added.

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