Darden Media Group Buys Maxim With Eye on TV, Music

Title Had Been On Block Since March

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Alpha Media has sold Maxim magazine to an affiliate of Darden Media Group that is planning to distribute Maxim's content across TV, radio and music platforms, the company said Thursday evening. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The July/August 2013 issue
The July/August 2013 issue

Calls to Darden Media Group were not immediately returned Thursday night, but in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Chairman Calvin Darden said he plans to introduce a Maxim-branded TV channel and music label.

"Although the publishing industry has seen seismic shifts over the past several years, the opportunities to create powerful, transmedia brands that engage consumers and advertisers on multiple platforms is significantly on the rise," said Mr. Darden in a press release. "Darden Media Group has an extremely optimistic vision of the future of media, and we are looking forward to building a property that sets the gold-standard for integrated media in the 21st century."

Maxim had been on the block since March, though a sale effort had been in the works since Cerberus Capital Partners took over the company in 2009. There were at least 10 other bidders for the magazine, a person close to the negotiations said. Bloomberg reported in July that bids were about $30 million.

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. Facing economic headwinds affecting the magazine industry, they shuttered Stuff immediately and later closed Blender.

Mr. Darden, who founded his media group earlier this year, is a former senior VP and board member of UPS. In addition to running the media group, Mr. Darden owns a real-estate development company and serves on the board of directors at Target and Coca-Cola. Fortune magazine ranked Mr. Darden as one of the "50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America."

"Cal's notable achievements and proven business record as a prominent executive and board member at some of America's most well-respected companies is impressive and undoubtedly will help us as we build on our existing strategy and position Maxim for growth and brand extension," said Ben Madden, president of Maxim, in a press release.

Maxim remains one of the largest men's magazines, although its star has dimmed in recent years. Ad pages are down 19% through the first half of 2013, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. The title reduced the paid circulation it guarantees advertisers to 2 million from 2.5 million this year, while trimming frequency to 10 issues in 2013 from 11 in 2012 and 12 in 2011.

Its digital replica circulation, however, is among the strongest in the industry at 211,429, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

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