Big guns staying out
Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., for one, is probably sitting this one out despite recent reports to the contrary. If Hachette stays away, it will have plenty of company from other big publishers: Conde Nast Publications, Hearst Magazines, Meredith Corp. and Rodale are not bidding.
Those who are apparently bidding include some very interesting names, including William F. Reilly, the former Primedia chief; Stockholm's Bonnier Magazine Group, which entered the U.S. this year by taking a major stake in World Publications (Saveur, Spa among other titles); Kent Brownridge, the former Wenner Media No. 2, with Avista Capital Partners; and Sandler Capital Management, one of the investors that bought Discover magazine last fall.
Time Inc. declined to comment beyond what it has said earlier about the sale process. All other parties declined to comment, did not reply to inquiries or could not be reached.
Those familiar with the offering say revenue is $250 million to $300 million but overhead costs now being absorbed by Time Inc. corporate may affect the titles' operation expenses under new management -- and therefore may affect bid prices.
Time Inc. Chairman-CEO Ann S. Moore said this week that she already had more than 100 inquiries, though the word among brokers, bankers and potential buyers puts serious bidders closer to 70 in number.
More worrisome for employees of the titles on the block, most suitors seem to be financial buyers -- typically eager to cut costs and resell properties -- instead of publishers looking for strategic acquisitions to nurture and hold for the long term. Ms. Moore, who has said she would prefer a strategic buyer, is under pressure to wrap up a deal by December, according to those familiar with the bidding.
The sale includes the Time4Media Group titles such as Ski, Skiing, Field & Stream, Popular Science, the Transworld titles, Outdoor Life, Motorboating and Yachting. Time Inc. will not part with Golf Magazine or the iconic and handsomely multiplatform This Old House. The Parenting Group includes Parenting and BabyTalk magazines.