Xavier Romatet already active at Groupe Marie Claire
Media executive Xavier Romatet, in the process of leaving Conde Nast International, has already been negotiating with unions at Groupe Marie Claire in recent weeks on a restructuring of the French media group, several sources close to the matter have said.
“He has a lot of work on his hands,” one of the sources said about Romatet.
Conde Nast International last week said that Romatet was leaving the publisher of Vogue after 12 years. He had launched in France GQ in 2008 and Vanity Fair in 2013, and in 2016, while remaining head of France, Romatet was promoted to Vice President of Conde Nast International.
Romatet is expected to head a new entity that will be created through a merger between Groupe Marie Claire, Mondadori’s French operations and some media to be sold by French group Lagardère, sources close to the matter have said.
Talks are still ongoing regarding the creation of the new entity, the sources said. The deal is complicated by the fact that there are many parties involved and valuations have been hammered by difficult market conditions. However, analysts expect the newly formed media to be announced by the end of 2018.
“This will be a real challenge for him,” one of the sources said about Romatet’s new project.
Merging Groupe Marie Claire which includes titles such as Cosmopolitan, Avantages and Stylist with the French operations of Mondadori (Biba, Grazia, Closer), and certain media assets of Lagardère such as Elle, would allow the new entity to benefit from synergies in areas such as distribution and subscriptions, accounting and media buying, analysts have said.
On his Linkedin account, Romatet said his departure from Conde Nast would be effective early May. “I prefer to take back my freedom as the group’s culture and organization has evolved and I am convinced that other qualities with another profile will be better adapted to this new stage,” Romatet said on Linkedin on Friday.
While he did not say where he was heading, he made it clear that he was not disappearing from the media business altogether, ending his note with: “See you very soon.”
Last week, Mondadori Chief Executive Ernesto Mauri confirmed the Italian media group was discussing a merger of its French media with Groupe Marie Claire. Lagardère CEO Arnaud Lagardère said this month the group was considering disposals to help reduce its exposure to the struggling media market.
Traditional print media ad revenues have plummeted in recent years and the loss has not been compensated by online ads which generate far lower revenue streams. The lion’s share of digital ad revenues has been gobbled up by Google and Facebook. Readers also increasingly rely on ad-blockers on their mobile phones and laptops, making it difficult for advertisers to get through and for media organizations to measure their target audience on which they base their ad prices.
Reuters reported that Lagardère CEO Arnaud Lagardère said during a trading update that the group would keep magazine Paris Match, weekly Journal du Dimanche and Europe 1 radio and its video production unit but would consider selling other media, which could include weekly fashion magazine Elle. Lagardère also owns a 42 percent stake in Groupe Marie Claire, for which it has also been trying to find a buyer.
Lagardère’s divestments would allow the French group to reallocate cash to more promising areas in which it is already active such as book publishing and travel retail, analysts have said.
Xavier Romatet, Lagardère and Groupe Marie Claire declined to comment while Mondadori did not respond to requests for comment.
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