Media group Emap has sold its struggling French division to the Italian publisher of glossy magazine Grazia for £380 million.
Following the sale to Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, which is controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, some £285 million - representing 75 per cent of the proceeds - will be returned to shareholders.
Emap and Mondadori already have a relationship as Emap secured the licence to launch a UK version of Grazia, a title started by Mondadori in 1938 as Italy's first women's magazine.
The French operation was put up for sale in February, with the company later reporting a 25 per cent fall in annual profits for the division to £38 million.
Emap's chief executive, Tom Moloney, said the company, which publishes Closer, heat and FHM magazines, would be allocating more resources to "faster growth platforms".
"The sale of Emap France is in line with this strategy, and also allows us to return to shareholders a significant portion of the value created during our period as a French consumer magazine publisher," he said.
Emap France has struggled from falling newsstand sales and a lack of appetite among advertisers to use print media to promote their products.
Two of its most successful titles - Tele Star and Tele Poche - sell more than two million copies per week between them.
The deal is subject to regulatory clearance and could be completed by September.
In addition to its portfolio of magazines, Emap also owns 40 radio stations - including Birmingham based Kerrang! 105.2 - in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
Yesterday, one of the group's radio stations was hit by the largest fine imposed in the UK on a commercial radio station.
Watchdog body Ofcom ordered Emap's Kiss FM Radio to pay £175,000 for "numerous and serious" breaches of regulation codes.
Ofcom received received ten complaints about broadcasts by the London-based opera-tion between April and November 2005.
Two concerned two so-called "wind-up" or prank calls in which the broadcaster failed to seek consent from the participants who were identifiable, it said in a statement.
Eight of the complaints concerned the scheduling of inappropriate material, such as offensive language and sexual content which was broadcast at breakfast time when children are likely to be listening.
Bill Griffin, managing director of Kiss 100, said: "As a radio station that tries to push the boundaries whilst engaging the capital's biggest young, urban audience, we accept that we can sometimes unintentionally overstep the mark. We have made every effort to prevent a recurrence and we fully accept Ofcom's findings and apologise for any offence caused."
Ofcom said that, as a result of a previous fine of £125,000 against another of its radio stations, Key 103 FM Manchester, Emap had introduced a centralised group-wide system for complaints-handling in March 2005 and that it had put more compliance measures in place since Ofcom's investigation.