Rumor has it that Mr. Brownridge has looked closely at acquiring Maxim, Blender and Stuff, the Dennis Publishing titles quietly put on the block this spring. People close to the situation say Mr. Brownridge has held meetings with Allen & Co., the investment bank handling the sale, and the equity investors he would need to complete a deal.
Reached at his home in Virginia this morning, the usually outspoken Mr. Brownridge demurred. "I can't talk about it," he said. A Dennis representative declined to comment. A message left at Allen & Co. was not immediately returned.
A Brownridge return to power would be a thunderclap in the consumer-magazine business; a top role at Dennis Publishing would put him in direct competition with his former boss, Wenner Media Chairman Jann Wenner. The two executives had worked closely for decades on magazines including Rolling Stone and Us Weekly.
Chasing same ad dollars
If Mr. Brownridge were to lead Dennis, moreover, he would compete directly with his old boss: Dennis' Blender and Maxim chase many of the same advertisers as Rolling Stone.
There is one major question mark: Will the Dennis titles remain on the market? An executive familiar with the situation said Felix Dennis had just taken his properties off the table because no suitor was offering enough money. Dennis had floated a possible price tag of $250 million. Even if the Dennis books are truly off the market, it sounds like Mr. Brownridge may be back with us in the business sooner or later.