Time Warner may sell most magazines to Better Homes and Gardens publisher
Time Warner Inc., the media business that spans television, film and print, is considering the sale of most of its magazines to Meredith Corp., the publisher of Better Homes and Gardens, a person familiar with the talks said.
Under the terms being discussed, Meredith would acquire all but three of Time Warner's 21 magazine titles, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune would remain with Time Warner, the person said. Meredith is more interested in titles such as People, Real Simple and InStyle that fit with its magazines aimed at women, according to the person.
The move would let Time Warner offload at least part of its worst-performing major division, helping to insulate the company from an industrywide slump in advertising sales. The Time Inc. unit, the largest U.S. magazine publisher, has struggled to shift from print to the Internet, where ads command lower rates than do traditional magazine campaigns.
Time Inc. said last month that it would eliminate 500 positions, or 6 percent of its workforce, as newsstand sales and advertising continued to decline. The company's publishing revenue fell 6.6 percent last year to $3.44 billion.
BDT Capital Partners, a Chicago-based investment firm, is advising Meredith on the deal, another person familiar with the negotiations said. Keith Cocozza, a spokesman for New York-based Time Warner, declined to comment, as did Art Slusark, a spokesman for Meredith.
Des Moines-based Meredith, whose titles include Ladies' Home Journal, Family Circle and Parents, was founded in 1902 by Edwin Thomas Meredith, who began publishing Successful Farmer magazine that year. It employs more than 3,300 people.
Time Warner shares rose 0.7 percent to $52.85 at the close in New York. The stock has climbed 10 percent this year, beating the 6.6 percent advance of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.
The company's television business, which includes HBO and other cable networks, has been generating most of its growth.
Affiliate fees – the money paid by cable companies to carry the company's programming – helped earnings top analysts' estimates last quarter. The publishing business, meanwhile, declined 7 percent in the period.
Time Warner would be following in the footsteps of News Corp., the media company controlled by billionaire Rupert Murdoch. News Corp.'s publishing business, which lost $2.1 billion in fiscal 2012, will be spun off as a separate company later this year.
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