POWER OF THE PRESS: Luxury titan Bernard Arnault is becoming quite the press baron, too. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said Thursday it had entered exclusive negotiations to buy leading French financial daily Les Echos from Britain’s Pearson PLC, publisher of the Financial Times. Arnault already owns the La Tribune daily newspaper, Investir financial weekly and the monthly Connaissance des Arts art magazine. He also controls the Radio Classique music station in Paris.
Les Echos Group, which also includes a Web site and other financial information interests, posted 2006 revenues of 126 million euros, or $167.6 million at current exchange rate, and generated operating profits of 10 million euros, or $13.3 million.
This story first appeared in the June 22, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Employees at La Tribune and Les Echos have been up in arms about the prospect of a potential LVMH takeover, which would centralize control of France’s two main financial dailies. In a statement, LVMH said it considers editorial independence “of the utmost importance” and would include specific provisions in its agreement with Les Echos should it succeed in the bid.
Press reports have pegged the value of LVMH’s offer north of 200 million euros, or $266 million.
LVMH said it would convene a meeting with workers at La Tribune “to analyze the consequences of this process.” Should a transaction be concluded, the French conglomerate vowed to invest in the development of Les Echos. — Miles Socha
DESIGNER DISPUTE?: “The Fashionista Diaries” has either dropped designer Charlotte Ronson or may be close to it. As WWD reported, the upcoming Soapnet show was supposed to show six assistants put together a fashion show and after party for Ronson during New York Fashion Week in September. Yet on Wednesday, executive producer Jenny Daly at Go Go Luckey Productions said Ronson was out and another “big name designer” was in. Daly added that Ronson will no longer be on the show “because we just couldn’t get a contract that worked.” A day later, a spokeswoman for Ronson denied Daly’s claim and said heavy negotiations are still going on. She added Ronson still wants to be part of the show, but her lawyers are busy combing over contracts. “The whole show was built around her, but she may just do a cameo now,” the spokeswoman added. In addition, Ronson’s public relations firm, Seventh House PR, also may pull out as it only got involved because of Ronson. Meanwhile, Jane magazine and Flirt Cosmetics have both confirmed they are still involved in the show. — Amy Wicks
HEY, DADDY-O: Former Barneys New York co-chief executive officer Gene Pressman and DJ-turned-marketer Noah Kerner span both generations and talents, so it was fitting that guests of all ages and industries turned up to celebrate their book, “Chasing Cool: Standing Out in Today’s Cluttered Marketplace,” including co-hosts Richard Meier and Amy Sacco. (The latter lent Bungalow 8, extolled in the book for capturing cool, for the occasion.) Fashion folk in tow included Vera Wang; GQ Style Guy Glenn O’Brien, who had been creative director of Barneys advertising; Men.Style.com editor in chief Dirk Standen, and In Style fashion director Hal Rubenstein. “The party was interesting — people from the old Barneys era, people in all different industries, friends, young and old,” Pressman said the next day.
Not present at the party, however, was Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter, who up until last fall had Pressman on his masthead as a contributing editor, a gig that appears to have lasted since 2000 without any bylines. A spokeswoman for the magazine denied speculation Pressman had fallen out of favor with Carter, whose magazine carried a small plug for the book in June, and noted Pressman had actually been off contract since 2003. (Students of the always-copious list of Vanity Fair contributing editors will note that it took three years for Pressman’s status change to appear.) As for how co-authors Pressman and Kerner thrashed out their definition of cool, Pressman said, “We didn’t agree on everything, but we sort of came to the same place. I think it was kind of an interesting learning experience….I think the older generation, or every generation, has a habit of thinking their generation was the best, whether it be music, art, whatever, and I think Noah pointed out that when you do that, you sound old. And he’s right. I think there’s great talent in every generation.”
— Irin Carmon
HATCHING AN EGG: Former Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia executive and Time Out editorial director Cyndi Stivers is gearing up for the launch of her new green lifestyle Internet company, Blue Egg. And at least one former employee has followed her: Cindy del Rosario Tapan, who helped launch Martha Stewart Living Radio and served as program director there, and who is now the managing editor of Blue Egg. One affiliated site, Greenbuildingblocks.com, which bills itself as “an online directory of green design and building professionals,” has already gone live. There, Blue Egg is described as “a media company dedicated to providing inspiration, pathways and solutions to enable all to live a more sustainable life.” — I.C.
LIFE CUT SHORT: Bauer Publishing dismissed seven staffers at Life & Style on Thursday across most editorial departments. The majority were lower level employees from the fashion, beauty, news, photo and design departments, but the cuts also included style director Anne Fritz, senior designer Valentina Porrazzo and senior news editor Rosemarie Lennon. “Life & Style did complete a restructuring of its organization in an effort to position the magazine for continued, future growth,” according to a company spokeswoman. The cuts are the first major set of firings since new editor in chief Mark Pasetsky took over the title in November.
Bauer reorganizes at one title as it invests in another — in September, the company will launch a twentysomething women’s weekly, Cocktail. Bauer is staffing up the magazine and recently appointed Audrey Razgaitis as creative director. Razgaitis joins from Cocktail’s sister title In Touch, where she held the same position.
— Stephanie D. Smith
FOR A CAUSE: Phillips-Van Heusen Corp.’s Arrow brand will shoot the second installment of its fall ad campaign at Ellis Island this weekend. A random group of celebrities who all claim family ties to Ellis Island will be photographed by Richard Phibbs, including Kristen Cavallari from MTV’s “Laguna Beach,” singer Katharine McPhee and Elliott Gould. The celebs, along with “real” Americans, will appear in Arrow’s first national ad campaign in four years, launching in print, billboards, cinema and public service announcements. The campaign will support the nonprofit organization Save Ellis Island. Allen Sirkin, president and chief operating officer, said the budget was tripled on this campaign, compared with years past. During the first photo shoot in May, Christian Slater and Richard Belzer were among the celebrities shot by Phibbs. — A.W.