Hacette executives deny that Saddam Hussein personally selects the models who appear on the cover of Elle.
Did I say we own Elle? On Tuesday, I blogged a short item about Hachette USA’s ceo downplaying the company’s French ownership. If he thinks that was a PR challenge, how do you think he’s feeling this morning waking up to the headlines regarding who one of his largest shareholders is?
MEDIA monolith Hachette Filipacchi, already fearing an anti-French backlash, has a bigger problem: Saddam Hussein owns a $90 million stake in its parent company. Saddam owns just under 2 percent of Lagardere SCA, the French company of which Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., publishers of Elle, Car & Driver, Women’s Day and other titles, is a unit. His shares are held by Iraqi-controlled Montana Management, based in Geneva.
This is not a new disclosure, but that is not stopping Hachette from doing major damage control. Saddam has no seats on the board and no influence on business decisions of the company, say spokespeople. They fear no backlash from advertisers or readers, they claim. Okay. I’m biting my tongue here.