The chairman of Hachette Lagadere, Arnaud Lagadere, has confirmed his company's interest in purchasing Hodder Headline from WH Smith. WH Smith, the U.K. High Street book and stationery retailer, is subject to a takeover bid from the private equity group Permira. The bid is headed up by Keith Hamill and Simon Burke, and Permira has made no secret of the fact that it will sell Smith's publishing arm if it assumes control of the company.

Lagadere is keen to add to his existing trio of British publishers—Orion, Octopus and Watts—to expand his English-language books business. Revenue for the three French-owned British companies is now £130 million ($232 million). Orion has just reported turnover of £70.7 million for 2003, an increase of 2.8%. Profits rose from £4.9 million to £5.46 million.