'Budget Living': Welsh puts startup title on the block

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The well-regarded startup Budget Living is being shopped by owner and Publisher Don Welsh.

Mr. Welsh said the situation came up from other publishers' inquiries. "We've gotten approaches," he said. "We have given a few companies numbers." He said no serious talks have yet been held, though, and added "if someone came in with an extraordinary number, I'd sell. If they don't, the magazine is not for sale."

Several magazine publishers reported receiving quiet approaches concerning the title before the holiday break. The sale exploration is being handled by media investment banker Jordan Edmiston Group. Jordan Edmiston helped Mr. Welsh raise the startup capital for the magazine and handled the sale of his other recent startup, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, to the Washington Post Co. in December 1999.

publishers in talks

Meredith Corp., Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., American Media and Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing are among the publishers that have been involved, said executives familiar with the process. A spokeswoman for G&J declined to comment. A spokesman for Meredith said he would not comment on "active negotiations or interest," but also spoke of Meredith's interest in reaching younger women, which it's wrestled with through its purchase of American Baby. Meredith also played with a younger-skewing shelter title, Living Room, without launching it.

"If it's not the right home, I won't sell the magazine," Mr. Welsh said. "We've got plenty of money to go on forever." He acknowledged elsewhere his modus operandi as a solo entrepreneur is to run his titles "for three or four years and then hand them off to the big guys."

launch of the year

Budget Living launched in October 2002 and was named Advertising Age's Launch of the Year for 2003. It publishes six times a year, with plans to go to 10-times-a-year frequency in 2005. The rate base is scheduled to rise to 450,000 with its February-March issue. A spokeswoman said the title ran 370 ad pages in 2003, although neither ad page nor circulation figures have yet been audited by a third party.

Budget Living had a quick rise to prominence, owing to its cheap-chicpositioning and media-genic 30-something editor, Sarah Gray Miller. Mr. Welsh would not divulge its revenue levels but said it was "cash-neutral" and "very close to break-even."

A veteran magazine entrepreneur, Mr. Welsh, whose resume includes founding Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel and Outside, moved quickly into brand extensions with Budget Living. The first Budget Living-branded book, "Home Cheap Home," comes out this spring from Penguin USA imprint Perigree, while "Party Central" is slated for the fall. A Budget Living newspaper column launched in fall 2003 and is syndicated in 18 newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times and Dallas Morning News.

Mr. Welsh is shopping Budget Living more quickly than his last venture, Budget Travel, sold just shy of its second birthday. Publishing executives said overtures regarding Budget Living came just after the magazine's first anniversary.

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