G+J USA Publishing, a unit of Bertelsmann AG, officially reached an agreement late last month to sell selected assets and liabilities of its Inc. and Fast Company magazines for $35 million to Mansueto Ventures, a firm controlled by Joe Mansueto, founder of investment research firm Morningstar.
"I am delighted to acquire two of the nation’s leading business magazines. I have long admired both publications. They have everything I look for in a media company: world-class brands, exceptional management, high-quality content, and loyal readers and advertisers," Mansueto, who is an investor in Time Out Chicago, said in a statement.
Insiders said Mansueto outbid the Economist Group, which publishes The Economist and CFO, for the two titles. A small factor in Mansueto’s bid was his willingness to keep Fast Company open when most other bidders planned to shutter the struggling magazine, insiders said.
Fast Company lost about $8 million last year, according to people familiar with the matter. Through the first five months of this year, the magazine’s ad pages fell 15.4%, according to Publishers Information Bureau (PIB) figures.
Inc. was said to have posted a "contribution" of about $4 million in 2004. Through May of this year, the magazine’s ad pages declined 7.2%, according to PIB. The general business magazine market overall is also sputtering, at least when it comes to print pages.
The sale of Inc. and Fast Company marks the last chapter in G+J USA and parent Bertelsmann’s foray into the U.S. magazine business. The estimated sale figure of $35 million is significantly below the reported $565 million G+J USA paid for the two magazines—$200 million for Inc. and $365 million for Fast Company—in 2000.
G+J agreed to sell its consumer titles, including Parents, to Meredith Corp. earlier in June.