Time, ACP joint venture collapses

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SYDNEY -- The $70 million magazine joint venture proposed between Time Inc. and Kerry Packer's Australian Consolidated Press Ltd has collapsed, just a fortnight before it was to be sealed, with both companies conceding "differing views on strategy...we decided much of what we wanted to achieve together could be managed by each company separately."

In February, ACP and Time unveiled a 50/50 venture to establish Premier Magazines, which was to publish six titles: ACP's 118-year-old flagship The Bulletin, along with New Weekly, Gourmet Traveller and Wine Magazine, and Time Inc.'s Time and Who Weekly.

Failure of the partnership has caught major advertisers by surprise. They welcomed the new venture, which was expected to improve efficiencies.

"The deal was on the table for 12 months; one would have thought all the hard work was done," says Barry O'Brien, director of Total Advertising & Communications.

Colin Morrison, ACP managing director, says: "When we really looked at it, the synergies weren't that great...we'd envisaged benefits in running Who Weekly and New Weekly in the same company, and Time and The Bulletin together."

Haydon Bray, managing director of Carat Bray Media adds: "The Bulletin [which has been losing circulation] is the most exposed of all these titles, but I think it will last. The battle between Who Weekly and New Weekly will resume. The bottom line is they are both competing for the same advertising dollars."

Marty Gardner, who was to be Premier's managing director, will instead oversee Time Inc.'s growth in Australia and New Zealand as managing director of Time Inc. South Pacific.

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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