W magazine appears on its way to finding a buyer.
The Condé Nast fashion glossy is said to have gotten preliminary interest from roughly 15 potential suitors in recent weeks as it made available a fact sheet on its current business and prospective go-forward business value and potential. Nearly all of those sniffing around are thought to be investment groups, many outside the U.S., and not traditional publishers or individuals looking for a vanity play, sources tell WWD. Momentum around Stefano Tonchi, the magazine’s passionate longtime editor in chief, getting financing together to buy it himself seems to have died down considerably.
The next phase of the process is for a handful of those entities still interested in acquiring the magazine to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to view the so-called “data room,” which is essentially the legal and financial history of a company, to allow prospective buyers to complete due diligence before submitting a bid. It’s likely that this process will not be complete before February, but a sale could come quickly once a competitive bid or two comes in. The current asking price being floated around is still said to be about $8 million, but that could change depending on who (and how many) ultimately show interest in the title.
As first reported by WWD, Greenhill & Co. is handling the sale process and W already has an operating budget for the next fiscal year. Its first 2019 issue has already been produced and its second is about to close with nearly all ads placed. The magazine prints eight issues a year. Greenhill is also handling the sales of Brides and Golf magazines, and the titles are said to be at a similar stage of their respective sales process.
A Condé spokesman declined to comment.
The apparent stability at W is about as good as it can be under the circumstances, but it unfortunately hasn’t been enough to keep several longtime staffers on board — there is still plenty of uncertainty around who will buy the magazine and what a buyer would do with it.
Recently Sam Walker, W’s senior market editor, left the magazine, along with Gabriella de Givenchy, jewelry editor and grand-niece of the late Hubert de Givenchy, and Sarah Leon, executive digital director. Rickie de Sole, fashion director and daughter of fashion executive Domenico de Sole, also recently took up a role with Vogue as head of fashion partnerships. While she maintains her title with W, for now, she is said to be sitting with Vogue staffers, despite having desks in sections for each title.
The exits are all said to be voluntary and not a result of any financial cuts to the title, which has been on a tight operating budget for some time already. While Walker and de Givenchy don’t seem to be moving to new jobs, Leon is said to have accepted a position within Pat McGrath’s growing beauty empire. A company representative could not be reached for comment.
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