Time Inc. Bids on OK Magazine

Northern & Shell Reportedly Exploring Options on Broader Portfolio

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Time Inc. has made a bid on the U.S. edition of Northern & Shell's OK magazine, people familiar with the process said, confirming a report that appeared on a Sky News blog over the weekend.

The bid isn't as high as the $30 million to $35 million ballpark reported by Sky News, according to those people. Time Inc.'s interest is still perhaps surprising given the title's struggles in the nearly six years since it arrived here.

Northern & Shell owner Richard Desmond introduced the U.S. edition in August 2005, promising to spend $100 million over six years to get it up and running soon enough to dominate the competition. Instead the magazine cost $175 million before five years were up and is still striving.

Paid and verified circulation in the second half of last year increased 3.5% from the equivalent period a year before but still missed the magazine's 800,000 circulation guarantee by 2.4%, according to its report with the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Ad pages in the first quarter of this year declined 5.6% from the quarter a year earlier, according to the Publisher's Information Bureau.

Time Inc. already owns People magazine, far and away the leader among celebrity weeklies, but may be thinking that at the right price, OK could fill a slightly different niche.

Messages left at Northern & Shell, which is reportedly exploring the sale of a broader portfolio of magazines, were not returned by deadline. Time Inc. declined to comment. A spokeswoman for OK in New York could not immediately be reached.

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