Meredith Corp., which finalized its acquisition of Time Inc. at the end of January, is looking to sell off some of its most storied titles. The announcement, which was not entirely unexpected, comes after a portfolio review determined that Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money were not a natural fit with the Des Moines-based media company’s existing stable of brands, which leans more heavily toward lifestyle and entertainment.
“For example, today we are announcing we have completed our portfolio review and decided to explore the sale of the Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money brands. These are attractive properties with strong consumer reach,” Meredith president and chief executive officer Tom Harty said Wednesday evening. “However, they have different target audiences and advertising bases, and we believe each brand is better suited for success with a new owner. We are pleased with the inbound interest we have received, and we are confident these brands will be positioned for growth with an owner that shares Meredith’s respect for editorial integrity and independence.”
There has been speculation over potential buyers for these titles since Meredith announced a deal to acquire Time Inc. last November. Some names bandied about for some of the titles have included Bloomberg, The Hill’s Jimmy Finkelstein, former Time Inc. ceo Joe Ripp, and American Media Inc.’s David Pecker. Last month, the company announced that it had sold Time U.K. to a private equity firm.
Meredith declined to comment beyond today’s announcement. Staffers at those titles were notified during an all-hands meeting at the company’s Lower Manhattan location, which was held Wednesday afternoon despite an early spring snowstorm. According to a report about the meeting with the Fortune staff from the web site Axios, Harty said potential buyers of that title did not include private equity firms, or “someone like Condé or Hearst.” He also seemed to rule out American Media Inc. as a potential buyer of Fortune.
As part of the announcement, Meredith said 200 employees across the company had been notified that their positions would be eliminated, with 1,000 more positions expected to be eliminated over the next 10 months. The headcount reduction is part of the company’s plan to cut between $400 million and $500 million as a result of synergies between the two companies, which Meredith revealed as part of its acquisition strategy.
In November, Meredith announced a $2.8 billion cash deal to buy Time Inc., which came after multiple false starts and aborted efforts at dealmaking over the last few years. The purchase price covered Time Inc.’s debt and the deal includes a $650 million equity infusion from Koch Equity Development, the investment arm of Koch Industries.
“Meredith presented us with an opportunity to combine companies to create even greater scale and financial flexibility. Scale matters and will enable the enterprise to compete more effectively in this dynamic media landscape, enhancing the enormous, exciting potential of our brands,” Time Inc.’s then-chief executive officer Rich Battista wrote in note to staff back in November.