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It’s official — Hearst Corp., a US-based magazine publisher, has bought French publisher Lagardere’s international magazines. The final transaction will take place in months to follow, but the purchase agreement has been signed for a cool $917.7 million US.

Hearst has acquired 102 titles in 15 countries — including Elle outside of France and Red in Britain and the Netherlands — from Lagardere. But Lagardere will keep the Elle trademark and receive yearly royalties from sales. The deal also includes digital operations compromising 50 websites and several mobile and tablet applications.

This merger will make Hearst the second largest US magazine publisher by circulation and the largest publisher in the world by number of editions, reports The Wall Street Journal. Although this purchase is encouraging for the print industry, it is rumoured that there may be work force downsizing of 30 percent or more.

Frank Bennack, Hearst Corp. chief executive, told TheWall Street Journal last month, “We think ink-on-paper magazines will be with us for a very long time and we want to strengthen our hand.” As the deal inches closer to completion, Hearst has named Simon Horne as CFO and general manager for Heart Magazines International.

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