Elle France's Brigitte Macron cover.

FRANCE — France’s Lagardère Group has completed the sale of most of its press portfolio to Czech Media Invest, including French Elle, Version Femina, Art & Décoration, Télé 7 Jours, France Dimanche, Ici Paris and Public.

The transaction, which was finalized on Thursday after talks began in April 2018, earned Lagardère 52 millions euros and will result in the transfer of 649 employees to the Czech Republic media group, partly owned and managed by billionaire Daniel Kretínsky.

In July 2018, the group also bought radio channels in Eastern Europe that had belonged to Lagardère for 73 million euros.

Lagardère retains ownership over the Elle brand both in France and internationally, but an “exclusive license for France on the brand” is included in the transaction, according to a statement.

The sale of its media titles is part of Lagardère’s global strategy to focus on Lagardère Publishing, which includes publishing house Hachette, and Lagardère Travel Retail.

The announcement comes a week after the group published its 2018 sale results. Revenues at Lagardère Active, its media branch, were down 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter: the division reported 270 million euros in sales, down from 300 million a year earlier.

The decline was due to a decrease in advertising revenue and the sale of Lagardère Active Radio International, as well as health web sites MonDocteur and Doctissimo.

In July 2018, Lagardère let go of its 42 percent stake in French Marie Claire, which is now owned by founding family Prouvost. The group still owns Paris Match, Le Journal du Dimanche and radio channel Europe 1.

“Daniel Kretínsky is a wise and francophile businessman. I have no doubt that he will continue the development of these magazines and give them all the means to succeed,” Arnaud Lagardère, general and managing partner of Lagardère SCA, said in a statement.

In November 2018, CMI acquired 49 percent of Le Nouveau Monde, one of the main shareholders of French daily newspaper Le Monde.

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