It seems Condé Nast is in no great rush to sell off W magazine.
While the sale of the oversize fashion glossy was initially expected to be wrapped up by the end of the year, W now has an operating budget for at least the first half of fiscal 2019, based on its print schedule of eight issues a year and with no reductions to its current staff, WWD has learned.
Until recently, W’s budget only went through February, which is the end of Condé’s fiscal year. In addition to the official budget, sources also noted that major advertisers like Kering and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (which have their own advertising budgets to finalize), among many others, were personally reassured during recent fashion weeks that the magazine would be printing as usual next year. Other sources noted that, while the magazine is still very much for sale, there simply is not a serious buyer lined up, but Condé knows that changing anything about the print schedule or staffing to immediately reduce costs could hurt W’s image and effectively drive down the asking price, which is said to be around $8 million.
Also, Condé and its parent company Advance Publications, which is heading up the process, have not started to formally market W, nor Brides or Golf magazines, which are also for sale. A data room and a book to shop around to prospective buyers are (three months later) being finalized under the advisory of Greenhill & Co. For sake of comparison, Meredith took about two months to close its acquisition of and then put up for sale the magazines Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money. It took about six months for Time to sell, but a sale of the other three titles is said to be imminent, keeping the process inside an initial fall timeline.
Although W’s editor in chief Stefano Tonchi is said to still be interested in leading a group to purchase the magazine, as first reported by WWD, he is now focused on finding a private equity partner for a more ambitious business scheme that would kick off with the purchase of W. But that prospect is far from a certainty.
When the sale, or “review” as Condé put it, was revealed, sources said the publisher was still working hard to cut costs in its magazine business as fruits from a slow and rocky swerve to digital proved more difficult to cultivate and the company simply needed revenue from somewhere to hit financial targets. In 2016 and 2017, the publisher saw a combined loss of about $220 million, according to a New York Times report. However, 2018 is on track to be a break-even year at Condé, a source noted. This could have a lot to do with the sense of urgency for the sales being less than it was over the summer, when Condé’s revenue may have looked more tenuous.
As for the other two titles, they’ve also yet to be formally marketed, but Meredith is still said to be already in talks to acquire Brides, as WWD reported earlier. A clear suitor is still yet to emerge for Golf, but there is said to be some inbound interest in the title.
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