Time Inc. has decided against selling itself, the company said Friday morning. The announcement that the company would instead pursue its strategic plan comes after months of speculation as the company entertained bids in an unofficial exploration of a sale.
“We received inbound indications of interest from multiple companies over the last few months,” chief executive officer Rich Battista told WWD. “Like any good board, we evaluated those and reviewed them carefully, and at the end of the day, the board felt strongly that going the current path with our strategic plan was the best way forward for this company and was going to deliver the best value to our shareholders.”
Since early March, interested parties are said to have included a group led by Jahm Najafi, ceo of the Phoenix-based investment firm Najafi Cos.; private-equity firm Pamplona Capital Management, and media company Meredith Corp — long rumored to be the most likely suitor. Earlier this year, Time Inc. rejected a takeover bid from Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Ynon Kreiz that valued the company in the $18 to $20 a share range, or around $1.8 billion. Following Friday’s announcement that the publishing group would not pursue a sale, Time Inc.’s stock fell nearly 17 percent to around $15 a share.
In a phone interview, Battista confirmed that this was a definitive decision not to pursue a sale in the foreseeable future but did not rule out the possibility of selling individual assets or brands.
“We think it’s important for us to really double down and show that focus across the brands that we think are the most important for us going forward. Given that, I think we are going to take a holistic look at the whole portfolio, and if we think there are opportunities to explore sales of assets or joint venture partnerships with some of our assets or brands, we’re going to do it,” he said. “We’ll only do it if it makes sense, but we’ll absolutely look at that.”
As for impending layoffs, Battista likewise couldn’t rule that out, despite saying that is not how he would characterize possible cost-cutting measures.
“Obviously, like any company we continue to be very vigilant on the cost side. We’ve pulled a lot of costs out of the company over the last few years, and we’re going to aggressively look at doing that in the future as a company that is moving from legacy print,” he said.
Battista characterized Time Inc. staff as “excited” by the news that the company wouldn’t sell after the months of uncertainty. Just this week, at the Time 100 Gala, Time magazine editor Nancy Gibbs addressed that. “We are waiting every day to hear,” she said.