The speculation about Meredith jumping into the fray follows reports earlier this week that Time Inc. rejected a $1.4 billion offer to sell the company to former Warner Music Group chief executive officer Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Leonard Blavatnik. On the news of the rejection, Time Inc.’s shares rose $2.39, or 17.6 percent, to close at $16.
The latest rumors have former suitor Meredith joining in. The TV and magazine company tried to acquire Time Inc. before Time Warner spun it off two years ago.
A representative for Meredith said: “Meredith is continually exploring opportunities to add attractive magazine media, broadcast and digital/video brands to its multichannel media portfolio. But we do not have any comment on any specific opportunities at this time.”
Time Inc., which owns Sports Illustrated, InStyle, People and a host of other titles, offered: “As a matter of policy, Time Inc. does not comment on speculation about such matters.”
Like its rivals, Time Inc. has been in the process of evolving its digital business, which includes restructuring its publishing and corporate teams. The upheaval has caused some to wonder if the company would be able to fully evolve its business, which is still weighed down with print-centric titles. In the fall, Joe Ripp, the chief executive officer who helped transition the company after it went public, stepped aside, handing the reins to Rich Battista, a former TV executive with designs on bringing to life many of Time Inc.’s titles on the small screen, mainly the digital one, in the form of OTT. But digital ad dollars aren’t yet as lucrative as print or television, and there are rumors that Time Inc.’s board is growing weary of its struggles.
Barry Lucas, an analyst at Gabelli Securities, weighed in on a potential Meredith deal, writing: “Interestingly, a transaction between Time and Meredith Corp. almost reached fruition prior to the Time’s spin from Time Warner. It is possible that a Time/ Meredith deal could resurface, as we think that Meredith still brings cost savings and other synergies, and has twice attempted to complete a transformational transaction.”
He also noted that “turnover in the executive suite with the departure of ceo Joe Ripp and chief financial officer Jeff Bairstow may be opening the door for a suitor.”
The analyst called Meredith, which owns various TV stations as well as magazine titles Parents, Better Homes & Gardens and Family Circle, “a well-run cash generative company” that is expected to “be an acquirer of television stations when the TV station marketplace becomes more active.”
Earlier this year, Meredith had been close to merging with Media General, owner of a slew of local TV stations, but that deal fell through. Nonetheless, the potential deal backs speculation that Meredith is on the hunt.