Maxim magazine's owners at Alpha Media are exploring a potential sale, partnership or partial sale, the company said today.
A sale effort had been in the cards since lenders including Cerberus Capital Partners took over the company in 2009. "It's never been a matter of 'if,'" Maxim President Ben Madden said in an interview. "It's a matter of when."
A deal now is not a sure thing, Alpha and Mr. Madden cautioned. "They don't have to sell if the price isn't right or the partnership isn't right," he said.
Inquiries about a deal with Maxim or an outright purchase have increased over the past year, according to a statement from Alpha Media. "Maxim constantly evaluates its position in the market and has decided now is the optimal time to entertain strategic relationships and offers," the company said. "The brand will only consider offers that are meaningful and beneficial to both the brand and its investors."
Offers aren't likely to prove as meaningful, however, as the last time Maxim changed hands. Founder Felix Dennis sold the U.S. edition of Maxim along with Blender and Stuff magazines to investors led by Quadrangle Capital Partners for about $250 million in August 2007, but the new ownership quickly ran into headwinds in the economy and the magazine business. They closed Stuff immediately but also later shut down Blender.
Maxim remains one of the largest men's magazines but the print edition does not fly at its old altitude. Ad pages declined 22.2% last year, a sharper drop than the 8.2% decline seen among magazines as a whole, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. And the title reduced the paid circulation it guarantees advertisers to 2 million from 2.5 million this year, a 20% drop, while trimming frequency to 10 issues in 2013 from 11 in 2012 and 12 in 2011.
Mr. Madden and Alpha Executive Chairman Jack Kliger have been working to expand the brand's other businesses, such as events and digital media, while reducing expenses. "Last year the business really stabilized in print," said Mr. Madden, adding that print ad revenue is increasing so far this year. "That's not just on the advertising and circulation side but also on the cost side."
"The most important component though is in the investment we've made in digital -- not just pure dot com but pushing our video content," he added. Maxim video is available on platforms including YouTube, Xbox Live, Playstation Network and web-enabled TVs, he said. Maxim's tablet edition is also the second-largest by paid circulation in the industry, trailing only Game Informer Magazine.