NEW YORK — It’s still too soon to predict where Brant Publications, publisher of Interview, Art in America and The Magazine Antiques, will end up, but Sandra Brant, president and chief executive officer of Brant Publications, and Ingrid Sischy, editor in chief of Interview, are fully committed to the magazines’ future as they explore strategic alternatives.
Brant Publications is owned equally by Brant and her former husband, Peter Brant, chairman. About a year ago, they retained the services of Allen & Co., the investment bank, to seek strategic alternatives and/or refinance to help the magazines expand.
Sandra Brant handles the publishing company’s operational duties and runs all aspects of its business. Peter Brant is a silent partner. The couple divorced in 1996. Peter Brant, who heads Brant Industries Inc., a newsprint manufacturer, has decided to monetize his interests in the publishing firm. He couldn’t be reached for comment.
“We’ve engaged Allen & Co. to explore strategic solutions,” said Sandra Brant in an interview at company headquarters at 575 Broadway here. The estranged couple had been discreetly working with Allen & Co. to find new financing and/or investors, and the New York Post broke the story last week.
“We’re really committed and devoted to these magazines and want to find a strategic opportunity which is the best for the magazines,” said Sandra Brant.
When the Brants originally bought The Magazine Antiques and Art in America in 1985, and then Interview in 1989, the company took on a great deal of debt. According to Sandra Brant, it took until last December to pay down the debt, and the three magazines are now debt-free.
With a clean balance sheet, it was decided this was an opportune time to restructure the business and seek new financing so the properties could grow. The company hasn’t adequately invested in the Web, newsstand promotion or advertising its titles.
Neither Brant nor Sischy would divulge what kind of interest they’ve received so far from the publishing and investment communities, and declined to describe what would be the ideal scenario for them, their titles and their 90 employees. Officials at Allen & Co. declined comment.
This story first appeared in the June 6, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We think there’s a fantastic opportunity for all the magazines, for all of us and for whoever buys it,” said Sischy, who became editor in chief of Interview in 1989. “The solution could go many ways. It’s too early to say what kind of solution there will be. There are many variations.”
For example, a publishing company could buy all three titles and absorb the company into its existing operation; Sandra Brant could find a financial investor to buy out her former husband’s 50 percent share, and the company could stay intact; or the company could be sold piecemeal, with the arts titles going to one publishing company and Interview to another, or some other combination.
Brant and Sischy stressed they were committed to staying at the company, but their ultimate involvement would depend on who the buyer was and how the deal was structured.
All three of the titles are making money.
Interview, dedicated to the cult of celebrity and the biggest of the three magazines, was founded in 1969 by Andy Warhol and Gerard Malanga; it has paid circulation of 210,679, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Art in America was founded in 1913 (paid circulation of 75,284) and The Magazine Antiques was founded in 1922 (paid circulation of 60,064).
For the first six months of 2007, Interview’s ad pages are up 5.84 percent; Art in America’s ad pages are ahead 9.96 percent, and Antiques’ ad pages declined 4.85 percent, according to Media Industry Newsletter.
With new investors, Sischy believes Interview can greatly enhance its Web site. She said she had tapes of celebrity interviews going back to 1969 that would work well on the Web. “We keep building the archives of voices,” she said.