On The Block

Viacom Inc. likes the music video business (it owns MTV) and the publishing business (College Publisher), but it looks as though the media conglomerate wants to get out of the music publishing business. New York-based Viacom announced Feb. 6 that it has hired UBS to explore the sale of its music publishing unit, Famous Music. The Famous-Lasky Corp., the predecessor to Viacom unit Paramount Pictures, created Famous Music in 1928 as a vehicle for publishing music featured in the studio’s talkies. It now owns some 125,000 copyrights, including the incidental and theme music featured in The Godfather, Titanic, and Star Trek. It also owns the sheet music rights to pop stars such as Shakira and Eminem.

In the world of fashion, you have to be a master of introducing new lines of clothes at the right time. Now upscale retailer Nordstrom Inc. has announced its intention to part with an entire clothes division, Façonnable, a boutique design house founded in Nice, France, in 1960. The clothing designer began selling its wares exclusively in Nordstrom-owned-and-operated stores in 1989, and Nordstrom bought the company in 2000. Nordstrom owns four Façonnable stores in America and another 36 in Europe, and dozens of franchised stores operate across the globe. A Morgan Stanley analyst said Façonnable could fetch between $165 million and $220 million in a sale based on estimated annual revenue of $110 million.

Eagle Hospitality Properties Trust Inc. isn’t finding the public market so hospitable anymore. The Kentucky-based hotel owner and operator said it has appointed a special committee, advised by Morgan Stanley, to explore a sale. If sold, Eagle Hospitality would join a long list of publicly held real-estate trusts that are now part of what a Stifel Nicolaus analyst called the “REIT privatization club.” The largest example, of course, is Blackstone’s recently sealed buyout of Equity Office Properties. Eagle Hospitality went public in 2004 and its stock has barely budged from its $9.75 IPO price. The Stifel Nicolaus analyst predicted a sale at $10 per share, or about $175 million excluding debt.

The sell-off is continuing at Primedia Inc. A few months after the publicly traded publisher off-loaded its outdoor magazine portfolio to InterMedia Partners, Primedia has hired Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers to explore a sale of the Enthusiast Magazine segment. The unit, which posted revenue of about $500 million last year, includes titles such as Hot Rod, Motor Trend and Surfer.