Joe Mansueto Offers $40 Million for 'Fast Company' and 'Inc.'

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NEW YORK ( -- Joe Mansueto, the founder and chairman-CEO of Morningstar Inc., has emerged as the lead contender to buy Fast Company and Inc., Gruner & Jahr USA’s last remaining magazines, with a bid estimated at $40 million.
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Without a final deal in place yet, however, The Economist Group remains a strong second option for G&J.

Executives at one of the companies involved confirmed reports of the front-runners that appeared in The New York Post and BusinessWeek Online.

Sue R. E. Geramian, a spokeswoman at Gruner & Jahr USA, declined to comment.

Other titles bought by Meredith
G&J, a division of German media conglomerate Bertelsmann, started seeking buyers in May after selling the rest of its portfolio -- Parents, Child, Fitness and Family Circle -- to Meredith for $350 million.

In the auction that ensued, with bids submitted June 15, Mr. Mansueto and The Economist Group seem to have made more compelling offers than other potential buyers, such as Advance Publications’ American City Business Journals and two Boston-based equity investment firms bidding separately, Abry Partners and Alta Communications.

G&J is not choosing a buyer based on price alone. It also wants a quick conclusion to its abrupt exit from the U.S. magazine business.

Under the terms of its deal with Meredith, G&J has until the end of the month to find a buyer for Fast Company and Inc. If it cannot, Meredith would probably assume ownership -- at an undisclosed cost estimated at $10 million to $20 million -- and try to sell the titles itself. G&J stands to make more by selling the magazines itself than by handing them off to Meredith.

Late '90s buying spree
The company will still recoup just a fraction of the half-billion dollars it spent to buy the two magazines in 2000, capping a late 1990s buying spree in the U.S. that never paid off.

Mr. Monsueto has worked previously with AdMedia Partners, the investment bank handling the auction for G&J. When AdMedia Partners helped the Time Out Group find financing for an expansion into Chicago, it reached a deal with Mr. Monseuto giving him a significant stake in the new title, Time Out Chicago.

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