Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Wendel Investissement
Sales: EUR 717.4 million ($907.30 million) (2004)
NAIC: 511130 Book Publishers
Editis S.A. is France's second largest publishing group (following Lagardère), operating in four primary publishing areas: Education, including textbooks for primary and secondary schools, as well as educational aids, software, and games; Literature; Reference; and Services, including marketing and distribution services for third-party publishers. Editis was formed from the breakup of the former Vivendi Universal Publishing empire, acquired by Lagardère in 2002, and includes parts of historic publishing groups Havas, CEP Communications, and Les Presses de la Cité. The company has been 100 percent owned by Wendel Investissement since 2004.
Editis's Literature holdings include noted subsidiaries such as Plon, La Découverte, Editions First, Perrin, Hemma, Julliard, Seghers, Robert Laffont, Pocket, and 10/18, among others. Under Education, the company includes Bordas, CLE International, Nathan, and Retz. The company's Reference division consists of Bordas References Culturelles and the Le Robert series of dictionaries, among others. Editis's Services division includes the Interforum distribution unit, which handles the marketing and distribution for Editis's own operations, as well as for unaffiliated publishers such as Panini, Scali, Mango, and others. Editis has adopted a firmly francophone strategy, focusing its publishing empire on the French-speaking world. In addition to acquisitions, such as the July 2005 purchase of Le cherche midi éditeur, Editis has begun launching new publishing imprints, including Fitway Publishing in 2004, and Kurokawa, a publisher of French-language mangas, in 2005. The company, led by Chairman Alain Kouck, posted sales of EUR 717 million ($907 million) in 2004.
1980–90: FRENCH PUBLISHING CONSOLIDATION
Formed in 2004, Editis represented the latest chapter in the long-running consolidation of the French publishing industry. Controlled by Havas into the mid-1990s, then reformed as Vivendi Universal Publishing by the end of that decade, Editis stemmed primarily from two major French publishing groups, Les Presses de la Cité and Havas-dominated CEP Communications.
Havas's own origins lay in the early 19th century, when Charles Havas founded one of the world's first news agencies. Over the next century, Havas developed a number of other interests, including newspaper and book publishing, advertising (including billboard advertising), and travel and tourism operations, among others. These activities became the group's central focus after the news agency business was taken over by the French government in the 1930s; that business later became known as Agence France Presse.
Following World War II, and tainted by its collaboration with the German occupier, Havas was nationalized by the French government. Through the 1950s and 1960s, the company's tourism and advertising businesses became the major parts of its operations. Nonetheless, by the 1970s, Havas also had begun to redevelop an interest in publishing. In 1971, for example, the company launched operations publishing free, advertising-supported newspapers.
Havas's true entry into publishing came in 1975, when it took part in the creation of a new magazine publishing group, La Compagnie Européenne de Publication (CEP). Havas's stake in the company reached nearly 75 percent into the mid-1990s; in 1997, Havas took full control of CEP. By then, CEP had established itself as one of France's publishing powerhouses.
CEP's first title, the business-oriented L'Usine Nouvelle, appeared in 1976. The following year, the company took a major step forward, acquiring Compagnie Française d'Edition, a major publisher of professional and technical trade journals. That company was also a leading organizer of conferences and trade fairs in France, an activity CEP maintained into the 1990s.
CEP continued to grow into the 1980s, notably through a series of acquisitions. In 1979, for example, the company acquired Librarie Nathan, a publisher of reference books and textbooks, marking Havas's entry into book publishing. These operations were expanded further by the acquisition of Sofilsa in 1983, and by the well-known Librairie Larousse operations in 1984. Also that year, the company acquired Groupe Tests, specialized in computer-oriented publishing, as well as a stake in Robert, a publisher of dictionaries and related reference works. In 1986, CEP changed its name to CEP Communications and listed its stock on the Paris Stock Exchange. Havas nonetheless retained majority control of the company. The following year, CEP agreed to merge with Générale Occidentale, which had recently taken over rival publishing group Les Presse de la Cité. That merger produced France's newest publishing giant, Groupe de la Cité, controlled by Havas. By then, Havas—which had recently added a television broadcasting component—had itself been privatized, with a listing on the Paris Stock Exchange.
CEP remained a separate entity in Groupe de la Cité into the mid-1990s, representing primarily its magazine publishing and trade show units. Its counterpart, Les Presses de la Cité, in the meantime, continued to build an impressive collection of some of France's most important publishing houses.
That company was founded in 1944 by Sven Nielsen, a Danish native who had emigrated to France in 1924. Both Nielsen's father and grandfather had been booksellers, and Nielsen himself had started out as an exporter of French books to the international market. Nielsen's contacts with the international publishing industry encouraged him to move into publishing. At first, Nielsen focused on introducing Anglo-Saxon authors to France, and published his first book in 1944. The company was incorporated in 1947 as Les Presses de la Cité (LPC). Following World War II, Nielsen convinced Georges Simenon, under contract at another house, to publish a memoir with him—that book, Je me souviens, appeared in 1946 and marked the beginning of a long relationship with the internationally best-selling author. Over the next decades, LPC published some 140 books by Simenon.
Our Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wendel Investissement, is the second-largest publishing group in France. It operates mainly in the French-speaking world, playing a major role in Europe (France, Belgium and Switzerland), Canada and Africa. Our objective is to develop Editis's business in all of its publishing activities, either by extension of our current commercial offerings or by acquisition. We are particularly concerned to maintain a business offering with a coherent range of products and efficient services while remaining faithful to its culture: broadening access to education and culture for all.
Nielsen quickly established himself as a major presence in the French publishing world, specializing in the popular American fiction, and then expanding into major genres such as crime fiction, science fiction and fantasy, among others. One of Nielsen's major achievements was the creation of the Larousse publishing imprint, which, through a series of international partnerships, became one of the world's best-known French imprints. The company's success allowed it to make a series of acquisitions through the 1950s and into the 1960s. In 1958, for example, LPC acquired Amiot-Dumont, which published popular novels as well as travel books. This was followed by the 1959 purchase of Perrin, a publisher of historical works, essays, and reference books, founded in 1884. LPC added a youth wing with the purchase of Editions GP in 1961, which was followed by the purchase of children's book publisher Solar. The following year, LPC launched a new imprint, Presses-Pocket.
Other major acquisitions of the 1960s and 1970s included the 1963 merger with Editions Fleuve Noir, which had achieved fame as a genre (crime, science fiction, adventure, erotic) publisher since its founding in 1949. In 1966, the company acquired Editions Plon, founded in 1845, and one of the country's leading nonfiction publishers. The Plon acquisition included the company's 10/18 imprint, targeting the youth market and formed in 1962. In 1970, LPC added a mail-order unit, France-Loisirs, in partnership with Germany's Bertelsmann. Also during the 1970s, LPC developed its own distribution operation, Messageries du Livre.
LPC continued acquiring scale into the 1980s; in 1985 alone the company acquired several publishers, including the publishing houses Bordas, Dunod, Gauthier, and Villars. In this respect, LPC fit in with the desire of the French government, which had been encouraging consolidation within the French publishing industry in order to create a French-language counterpart to the fast-growing international publishing empires, as exemplified by Reed-Elsevier and Bertelsmann.
LPC itself was acquired by Générale Occidentale, a subsidiary of Alcatel Alsthom, in 1987. That company quickly turned around the purchase, completing the merger of LPC and CEP's publishing business. The merged entity then became known as Groupe de la Cité (GDC), and featured Havas as a major shareholder. The company was then listed on the Paris Stock Exchange in 1989.
1990–2000: MEDIA EMPIRE COMPONENT
GDC grew steadily into the mid-1990s. The company expanded into the international publishing market, starting with the purchase of Grieswood & Dempsey, in England, in 1998. That company published under the Kingfisher imprint. In 1989, GDC acquired Dalloz, a French specialist in legal text publishing. That same year, GDC launched a new publishing company, The Millbrook Press, in the United States. Returning to France in 1990, GDC added that country's well-known Robert Laffont, a highly regarded publisher of literature founded in 1941. That purchase also brought Laffont's distribution business, Interforum.
Spain became an important market for the group, with the acquisitions of Boixareu and Marcombo in 1990, and then the launch of the joint venture Larousse Planeta in 1991. In that year also GDC merged its distribution operations into a single unit, Interforum. The company also acquired a majority of Spain's Espasa Calpe that year, before taking full control in 1992. Also in 1992, GDC bought up the editorial business of Harraps, the U.K.-based producer of bilingual dictionaries. The following year, GDC launched a reorganization of its structures, which included regrouping its British publishing operations (excepting Harraps) under a single entity, Larousse PLC. Other acquisitions included the purchase of Groupe Masson, then the leading publisher of medical and scientific information in southern Europe.
- Charles Havas founds the Agence Havas news agency.
- Sven Nielsen incorporates his publishing business, launched in 1944, as Les Presses de la Cité (LPC) and becomes Simenon's publisher.
- Havas becomes a founding shareholder in a new magazine publishing group, Compagnie Européenne de Publication (CEP).
- CEP changes its name to C.E.P. Communication.
- Générale Occidentale acquires LPC.
- LPC merges with CEP's publishing wing, becoming Groupe de la Cité (GDC).
- CEP acquires 98 percent of GDC; Havas acquires majority control of CEP.
- Havas takes full control of CEP and changes its name to Havas Publications Edition.
- Vivendi takes control of Havas and sells off its tourism and advertising operations.
- Havas's publishing business is renamed as Vivendi Universal Publishing (VUP).
- VUP acquires Houghton Mifflin.
- VUP is sold to Lagardère.
- Lagardère agrees to sell 60 percent of VUP, which is renamed as Editis, to Wendel Investissement.
- Editis refocuses as a French-language specialist and acquires Le Cherche Midi Editeur and Editions First; a distribution agreement with Quebecor is reached.
- Editis acquires full control of Editions XO.
In 1995, Générale Occidentale agreed to transfer its own press holdings, which included the magazines L'Express, Le Point, and Courrier International, among others, to CEP Communications. At the same time, CEP raised its share of GDC to more than 98 percent. These moves preceded the transfer of Générale Occidentale's holding in CEP Communications to Havas. In exchange, Alcatel Alsthom gained control of more than 21 percent of Havas.
Havas completed its takeover of CEP Communications in 1997, gaining control of France's second largest publishing empire. CEP's name was then changed to Havas Publications Edition. Yet Havas itself quickly became the target of another fast-growing group. In the mid-1990s, Jean-Marie Messier, then the head of Compagnie Générale des Eaux (CGE), had become determined to redevelop the former French utilities and construction giant into a global media powerhouse. In 1997, CGE acquired 30 percent of Havas, and began refocusing the group onto CGE's primary interest, telecommunications and electronic media. Soon after, CGE changed its name to Vivendi.
Under Vivendi, Havas began selling off much of its newly noncore operations, including its advertising and tourism businesses, as well as much of the former CEP's magazine titles. Meanwhile, Havas's book publishing side grew strongly, through acquisitions such as those of Quotidien Santé, the largest medical publisher in France, and its Spanish counterpart, Ediciones Doyma, and leading Spanish textbook and reference publisher Group Anaya, all in 1998. In 1999, Havas entered Latin America, acquiring Argentina's Aique, then forming a joint venture to acquire Brazilian textbook publishers Atica and Scipione.
FRENCH-LANGUAGE SPECIALIST FOR THE NEW CENTURY
The creation of Vivendi Universal (VU), the world's second largest media and communications empire, in 2000 launched a new phase in development of the future Editis. Following the creation of VU, Havas was renamed as Vivendi Universal Publishing (VUP). The company's operations by then included five major divisions: Literature, News, Games, Education, and Health.
VUP became the world's third largest publishing group in 2001 when VU's ambitious expansion program led to the purchase of the United States' Houghton Mifflin. To finance that purchase, VUP sold off its Health and News divisions for EUR 1.2 billion in 2002. Soon after the company sold a number of magazine interests, including Courrier International and Newbiz.
The landmark merger between VU and AOL-Time Warner, however, suddenly changed that group's focus. At the same time, VU's intense acquisition drive had saddled it with recordbreaking debt levels. This led the company to begin a selloff of large chunks of its holdings, including its publishing interests. By December of that year, Vivendi had reached agreement to sell VUP's European publishing holdings to the Lagardère Groupe—already France's leading publisher through its Hachette holding.
The acquisition met with opposition from the European mergers and monopolies commission. As part of a compromise, Lagardère agreed to keep just 40 percent of VUP, including Larousse, Dalloz, Dunod, Nathan, Anaya, and Sedea. The remaining 60 percent was renamed as Editis and put up for sale. Under intense pressure from the French government to find a French buyer for what was to become the country's second largest publishing group, Lagardère reached an agreement to sell Editis to Wendel Investissement in September 2004. Wendel had been formed by the merger of Marine-Wendel and CGP in 2002, although both had been financial vehicles controlled by the Wendel family since the early 19th century.
Under Wendel, Editis has adopted a new strategy of redefining itself as a French-language specialist, with an interest in developing its publishing operations throughout French-speaking Europe (Belgium, France, and Switzerland) and elsewhere, including Quebec and parts of Africa. The company made a first step in July 2005 with the acquisition of France's Le Cherche Midi Editeur. That purchase was followed in December of that year by the purchase of Editions First, a publisher of reference works and other materials for the young reader market. By then, Editis had reached a long-term distribution agreement with Quebecor Media, the leading publisher and distributor for the Quebec market.
In another international step, Editis acquired full control of Editions XO in January (as VUP, the company had been involved in the creation of Editions XO in 1999). That company specialized in introducing and placing French authors onto international bestseller lists. With sales of more than EUR 700 million ($900 million) in 2004, Editis planned to build on its status as France's second largest book publisher to become the leading French-language specialist worldwide.
10/18; Belfond; Fitway Publishing; Fleuve Noir; Hemma-Lipokili-Langue au Chat; Kurokawa; La Découverte; Langues Pour Tous; Le cherche midi éditeur; Les Presses de la Cité; Perrin; Plon Editions; Pocket; Presses de la Renaissance; Robert Laffont-Nil-Julliard-Seghers; Solar.
Lagardère Groupe SCA; Hachette Livre S.A.; Editions Nathan; Altavia S.A.; Societe du Figaro S.A.; Bayard Presse S.A.; Eppe S.A.; Editions Gallimard; Imprimerie Nationale; Groupe La Martiniere-Le Seuil; Lamy S.A.; Eurodis; Editions ENI.
Casassus, Barbara, "Editis Hits 10% Sales Growth," Bookseller, December 16, 2005.
――――――, "Editis Snaps Up Cherche Midi," Bookseller, May 6, 2005, p. 9.
――――――, "Editis to Publish Lonely Planet in France," Bookseller, September 24, 2004, p. 10.
――――――, Wendel Wins Takeover Race for Editis," Bookseller, June 4, 2004, p. 11.
"Editis and Quebecor Establish Ties in Canada," Canadian Corporate News, October 12, 2005.
"Editis va racheter les Editions XO," Nouvelobs.com , January 12, 2006.
Johnson, Jo, "Lagardère Sells Editis Arms to Seillière Family," Financial Times, May 29, 2004.
Tran, Pierre, "French Publishing Baron Lagardère Closes Book on Vivendi Unit's Buyout," Sunday Business, December 14, 2003.