Meredith Corp. is looking to close the sale of the Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money titles by fall, WWD has learned.
The Iowa-based media company held presentations for interested buyers between late May and early June and is now in the process of providing follow-up information to those still interested, with a final round of bids coming in by the end of this month.
As for who exactly is interested in the magazines, that’s still unclear, but it looks like all of the titles won’t be going individually, as the company is said to be zeroing in on the highest one or two bids and moving forward with a buyer, or buyers, by early July. It’s only expected to take two or three months for any deal to close, which would put the closing around the end of Meredith’s first fiscal quarter.
WWD has also learned that another round of layoffs is expected sometime between Meredith accepting a bid and the sale closing. Shortly after the company revealed plans to sell Time, sans its photo archive, along with Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money, an internal reorganization started that is set to cut about 1,200 staffers over the rest of the year. Hundreds have already been laid off.
Meredith’s stock has been trending down since it acquired Time Inc. at the start of the year, but will surely tick back up once a sale is formalized. Stephen Lacy, Meredith’s executive chairman, said during a call discussing third-quarter financials that the company plans to “aggressively de-lever using the cash generated” from the sales, and that it plans to reduce overhead costs by around $500 million over the next two years, with most cuts or “synergies” done by next June, at least half of which will come from employment costs.
Even before the more widespread layoffs were revealed, there were staff reductions related to the sale of a handful of titles that Time Inc. put on the block before being acquired and Meredith closed. Essence was purchased at the start of the year for an undisclosed sum by Richelieu Dennis, the founder of beauty company Sundial Brands, while Sunset magazine was bought by private equity fund Regent, whose founder Michael Reinstein has cited his personal attachment to the title in prompting the investment. The company also sold SI Play, an app related to Sports Illustrated, to NBC Sports.
Meredith’s decision to sell the four other titles was sudden, coming about six weeks after it absorbed the Time Inc. portfolio and put its name on the building overnight. Meredith said the four magazines don’t fit in with its majority lifestyle-centric titles, like People and InStyle, which it also got from the acquisition. Separately, Time U.K. was sold to private equity fund Epiris, which quickly closed the British version of InStyle.
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