Putting an end to rumors about the final destination of the U.K.'s Octopus Publishing Group, now chiefly known as a publisher of illustrated books whose imprints include Hamlyn, Mitchell Beazley, Conran and Philip's, France's Hachette Livre announced its takeover on October 24, in another major move into English-language publishing. Hachette Livre had earlier acquired the Orion group and Cassell, whose illustrated divisions have now been merged with Hachette's French-based lines in cookery, gardening, sports and health under the logo Hachette Illustrated.

In announcing the new acquisition, Hachette Livre's CEO Jean-Louis Lisimachio noted that illustrated books are "at the heart of Hachette's savoir-faire." And Arnaud Lagardère, president of the media division of the Lagardère Group, which includes the Hachette companies, promised further incursions into the world's most profitable language zones. Half of the Octopus Group's present turnover of £40 million (about $57 million) is earned outside of the U.K.; its backlist of some 100,000 titles includes such perennials as the Hugh Johnson wine guides.

Hachette Livre itself reported $335 million in sales in the first half of 2001, representing a rise of 6.4%, the gain largely due to British operations. In France itself, the group includes school and partwork divisions, as well as imprints such as Hazan and Le Chêne, and general publishing via Hachette Littératures.