The effort is being handled by Allen & Co., where an operator directed calls seeking information on Dennis to one of its executives, who did not respond to a message left seeking comment. A Dennis spokesman said there had been similar rumors in the past. "As always, we do not comment on rumors," he said.
A Dennis sale was first reported by The New York Post today.
Mr. Dennis is hardly lacking in wealth, but he has a forest to seed in England (which he calls "The Forest of Dennis"). And he told "60 Minutes" two years ago that he would one day sell Dennis Publishing to pay for the saplings and land.
Great track record
"Dennis has a great track record of not waiting until it is too late to sell, which is the case with Maxim and Stuff," said Mark M. Edmiston, managing director, AdMedia Partners, an investment banking and advisory firm. "Blender is too soon, but no point in keeping that around if the others are sold."
Any buyer that emerges could reshape the magazine business in the U.S. by consolidating with its own titles that reach young men, adding new strength to a smaller player or bringing in new, aggressive capital that would ramp up investment in the company.
The lad category has cooled after several years of white-hot growth, and Maxim is now preparing for a redesign aimed at bringing in more mature readers and higher-end advertisers. Its ad pages fell 6.2% last year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Its newsstand sales have fallen from their heights, but its average paid circulation remains robust at 2.5 million, according to its latest statement to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. An executive close to the company said the title generates more than $40 million each year in profits.
The company has also aggressively sought out licensing deals and online growth, which would help position it as a brand larger than ink on paper.
Mr. Dennis is not expected to sell The Week, which has turned in rapid growth on a small base while much larger newsweeklies have stagnated. The title is not yet profitable, but is expected to enter the black later this year.