K-III, PETERSEN, MEIGHER MULL N.Y. TIMES CO. TITLES: SUITORS COULD PUSH SALE PRICE TO $70 MIL; TIME MAY LOOK, TOO

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Potential buyers are circling New York Times Co. as it puts all its remaining magazines-except the golf titles-on the block.

Among those that officially said they are interested in Tennis, Tennis Buyers Guide, Cruising World, Sailing World, Snow Country and Snow Country Business are K-III Communications, Petersen Publishing Co. and Meigher Communications.

Sports Illustrated publisher Time Inc. is also expected to take a look, a spokesman said.

TIMES MIRROR INTERESTED?

Another possible candidate is Times Mirror Magazines, which after cutbacks two years ago has made modest expansion attempts with test issues of new magazines such as Verge and Edge. But it remains to be seen if the company is ready to strike a major deal.

Industry executives estimate a long list of suitors could push the sale price to the $35 million to $70 million range. That would be a fairly good multiple of earnings for the properties, estimated to have had net profit of only $2.5 million to $4 million last year on about $44 million in revenue.

K-III will be raising cash from the pending sale of non-core properties such as New Woman and the Daily Racing Form, and is looking for smaller, strategic acquisitions. The Times properties also fit Petersen's strategy of expanding its stable of specialized consumer titles, particularly in men's sports.

Meigher, meanwhile, has shown early success in attracting non-endemic-and upscale-advertisers to special-interest titles such Saveur and Garden Design.

For New York Times Co., the divestment furthers its goal of refocusing on core newspaper and broadcast properties. Earlier this month, the company said it was putting its custom publishing operation up for sale.

The streamlining plan, begun with the spinoff of McCall's, Family Circle and several other magazines to Gruner & Jahr USA in 1994, has accelerated since Russell Lewis was named president of the company last October.

GOLF TITLES VERY PROFITABLE

The company apparently is keeping its Golfing Co., publisher of flagship Golf Digest, Golf World and other titles in that niche, because it's highly profitable.

New York Times Co. continues to invest in newspapers, earmarking $20 million for a marketing and ad push to expand the national and northeast regional circulation of The New York Times.

The New York City edition is expected to expand to six sections with four-color capability in late August or September.

The strategy has pleased Wall Street so far.

"The stock's been on fire," said Edward Atorino, media analyst at Oppenheimer &

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