Hearst Aims for May 31 to Close on Hachette Deal

Layoff news seen following soon

Hearst is poised to close May 31 on its nearly $900 million deal to buy Lagardère’s magazines outside France, including New York-based Hachette Filipacchi Media. And employees of the acquired company are expecting to hear within days if not hours if they’ll be part of the package.

“It’s been eerily quiet,” said one employee on the eve of the anticipated close. “They claim whoever is not going to be with the company will know within 24 hours.”

One person who already knows his fate is Steve Parr, who became president and CEO of Hachette in September and who will have a consulting role with Hearst.

Hearst, whose titles include mass women's brands like Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, will emerge as the No. 2 U.S. publisher in terms of ad pages; the deal is expected to strengthen it in the women's service and fashion ad markets, both of which are fiercely competitive.

The deal won't come without some pain, though. Many Hachette employees have left on their own in recent months. But that still leaves 500 or so spread across its properties, which include Elle, Woman’s Day and Car and Driver. The belief internally is that as much as 30 percent of the remaining staff could be let go, affecting primarily back-office functions. Sales, marketing, and editorial are expected to stay largely intact.

However, a source close to the deal has since told Adweek that that amount is overstated and that Hearst expects to retain the "vast majority" of Hachette employees.

Once the deal is done, the Hachette employees who stay on are expected to be squeezed into Hearst’s Eighth Avenue glass tower, coming over from the Time & Life Building, which they moved into only last fall.

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