Asset Shedding Continues as Publisher Seeks to Pay Down Debt

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NEW YORK ( -- The first major magazine deal of 2002 came on Jan. 14 when Primedia announced the sale of its Modern Bride Group to Conde Nast Publications.

Conde Nast now owns the two leading magazines in that category, based on Publishers Information bureau ad page data. Other bridal magazines include the independently held Bridal Guide, Pace Communications' Elegant Bride and Martha Stewart Weddings.

$52 million
The deal, which includes the bimonthly 406,000-circulation Modern Bride plus Modern Bride Connections regional magazines, was for "cash considerations" of $52 million.

Primedia's announcement said the deal represented an Ebitda -- earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization -- multiple of 18 times for fiscal 2002. That alone would represent a full price, said one executive familiar with deal markets, but Primedia CEO Tom Rogers said the sale price was an even higher multiple of 2001's Ebitda.

A Conde Nast

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spokeswoman confirmed the deal but said executives were not available for comment. Asked how long Primedia had been in discussions regarding Modern Bride Group, Mr. Rogers said "a few months."

Shedding assets
The sale brings Primedia within about $100 million of the $250 million the company said it needed to realize, via divestitures, to pay down debt associated with its acquisition of Emap USA last year. Primedia closed the sale of its Bacon's Information unit to Sweden's Observer AB in late November in a deal valued at $90 million.

Industry executives have privately expressed frustration with Primedia for what they consider a slow and haphazard pace toward its divestiture goal, but Mr. Rogers dismissed such talk.

"We set a very clear timetable," he told "I think we've been orderly and timely and doing this on the basis we said we would."

Previously Mr. Rogers had said its deals would be done by the end of first half 2002.

'Seventeen,' 'New York' not for sale
Mr. Rogers held fast to earlier comments he had made that two of Primedia's key consumer titles, Seventeen and New York Magazine, were not for sale: "Nothing's changed on that front."

Asked about this year's overall outlook, Mr. Rogers said that "things stabilized some over the last few weeks." But, he added, the company had made its 2002 budget based on that "nothing will improve" over 2001, he said.

"I don't see any reason to change that view," Mr. Rogers said.

The deal was announced after the markets closed Monday. Primedia stock had closed at $4.50, up two cents.

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