Former colleagues Miller and Hand
Emap chief executive Robin Miller has written to Hachette Filipacchi to give notice of its intention to break up the joint venture which publishes leading fashion glossy Elle.
The dramatic move is understood to have triggered the legal unravelling process of the 10-year joint venture which has become deadlocked by months of wrangling over budgets and marketing spend and questions over Hachette’s proposed acquisition of Attic Futura.
The letter has given notice of the beginning of the official process to break up the partnership, which is subject to a three-month consultation period. It is also believed to be a recognition by Emap that the partnership is unlikely to survive.
An Emap spokesman said: "We would not comment on individual pieces of correspondence. It remains Emap’s preferred option to secure mutual commitment from both sides to what has been a phenomenally successful joint venture. However, if this is deemed not to be possible then Emap would want to see an amicable and efficient parting of the ways."
If the joint venture does break up both Emap and Hachette are expected to receive an equal share of the profits. Elle is estimated to make a profit of about £4m a year. The top glossy and its offshoot, Elle Decoration, would revert to Hachette and be moved into the Attic portfolio alongside B, Sugar and TV Hits and New Woman would revert to Emap.
Elle Girl and Red were both created by the joint venture and while Red is likely to remain with Emap, there is a potential debate over Elle Girl, which some believe would go to Hachette.
Hachette has been advised on the £40m Attic deal by former Emap chief executive Kevin Hand, who left the company after its disastrous foray into the US market, which resulted in a £500m loss.
One insider said: "There is nothing like someone who wants to have a second go. There is a lot of strong personal motivation in this."
By Ruth Addicott