DAILY BUSINESS: French businessman François Pinault is said to be interested in purchasing the southern French division of Groupe Hersant Média (GHM), which owns regional daily newspapers La Provence and Nice-Matin, the French daily Le Figaro reported today.

A spokeswoman at Artémis, the holding company through which Pinault controls luxury conglomerate PPR, declined to comment on the report. Le Figaro said other potential candidates for taking over the ailing media group’s most profitable titles included businessmen Bernard Tapie and Iskandar Safa.

A spokesman for Groupe Hersant Média also declined comment, merely confirming that the group is in talks with banks regarding its debts.

Artémis already owns the weekly news magazine Le Point, acquired in 1997, and the specialized monthly magazines Historia, Histoire, La Recherche and Magazine Littéraire. Artémis has also been a shareholder in Finintel Group, publisher of the daily newspaper L’Agefi, since 2000.