NEW YORK — In a move that came as no surprise, staffers at New York magazine were told Wednesday that parent company, Primedia, had retained Allen & Co. to explore selling the title.
In the meeting, the firm’s head of consumer magazines, David Ferm, said it was moving its focus to its trade and enthusiast titles (including National Hog Farmer and Civil War Times). Primedia also has been furiously unloading its assets to reduce its debt load and has been searching unsuccessfully for a new chief executive.
New York’s profits are said by several sources to be between $1 million and $2 million a year, but the firm is hoping the strength of its name will help generate a higher sale price than the 10 to 12 times annual earnings magazine companies typically get for acquisitions. Sources close to Primedia had said its primary owner, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., would like around $100 million for the title, but the number is now said to be on the high end of $60 million and $80 million.
Among the potential interested parties: William Reilly, the former Primedia chief executive now at Aurelian Communications, an owner of hobbyist publications; Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman; Emmis Communications, publisher of Texas Monthly; New York’s media columnist Michael Wolff, and Wenner Media. Steve Brill also is said to be looking at the title, though his previous partnership with Primedia, Brill Media Holdings, was disastrous and disintegrated in 2001.
An executive at Condé Nast, which was long thought to be the front-runner, told WWD in May that the company wasn’t interested in New York, viewing it as a “mature business” whose circulation was too small. Zuckerman and Wolff also have had a couple of conversations about purchasing the title in some sort of partnership, said a source close to Zuckerman, but the talks are not believed to have gotten far.