Time Inc was until 2014 the magazine publishing division of media giant Time Warner. It was the world's biggest magazine publisher, with more than 120 magazines and almost 146m readers a month. Its US titles included three of the country's biggest magazines in People, Sports Illustrated and Time, while its European operations were greatly enhanced by the purchase in 2001 of IPC Media, the UK's #1 consumer publisher. Group revenues peaked at a little under $5.0bn in 2006, but in the years that followed Time Inc struggled to cope with the crushing decline in print advertising revenues in favour of digital. Performance had already been in steep decline for several years when Time Warner opened talks in 2013 to sell the bulk of its titles to rival Meredith. Those negotiations ended without agreement, prompting Time Warner to spin off the business as an independent public company in early 2014 under chairman & CEO Joseph Ripp. Rich Battista succeeded Ripp as CEO in 2016. Revenues slumped to a new low of $3.08bn that year, and a second consecutive net loss. In the mean time, the company had received several approaches from potential acquirors. As the economic climate for print publishing continued to worsen, Meredith got back in contact in 2017 and eventually secured a deal to acquire Time Inc for $2.8bn in cash and debt. Meredith took the decision to sell off titles that didn't fit with its mainly female-led US audience. The UK division was sold off in 2018 to private equity as TI Media, and was subsequently acquired by Future Publishing in 2020. Time itself was sold to tech billionaire Marc Benioff, Fortune to Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon and Sports Illustrated to licensing company Authentic Brands. The break-up marked a sad end to what was once a giant of the industry. Founded in 1922 by journalists Henry Luce and Briton Hadden, Time magazine is still one of the world's best-known magazine brands. Fortune was created eight years later to give greater weight to Time's business coverage and after WWII the company moved into book publishing and eventually cable TV. Its investment in the Turner cable empire led to a mammoth merger with fellow shareholder Warner Bros in 1989.
Capsule checked 30th December 2020
Adbrands Daily Update 28th May 2019: The last of the former Time Inc titles put up for sale by Meredith finally found a buyer. Sports Illustrated has been acquired by licensing specialist Authentic Brands for $110m. Authentic's other properties include Prince, Tretorn and Spyder sports equipment, Nautica, Juicy Couture and Nine West apparel and accessories, and even the celebrity brands Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali. Meredith will continue to publish the magazine under license on Authentic's behalf for at least two years and also manage its website, advertising sales and social media. That arrangement is similar to the one Meredith already has for the Martha Stewart Living title. (The Martha Stewart brand was acquired earlier this year by another licensing specialist, Marquee Brands.) Meanwhile, Authentic will set about licensing the magazine's brand and extensive content archive. "Sports Illustrated has authority and the respect of athletes all over the world," said Authentic founder and CEO Jamie Salter. "It has real heritage, authenticity and respect. It's hard to get all those in a single brand." He said he intends to pursue multiple potential opportunities including licensing deals for apparel and other consumer goods, in sports gambling and even the creation of Sports Illustrated retail outlets.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Nov 2018: Another former Time Inc icon found a buyer. Launched in 1930 in the wake of the Wall Street crash, Fortune magazine is being acquired by Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon for $150m, a handsome premium of around 15 times the title's operating earnings. "Our vision is to establish Fortune as the world's leading business media brand," he said in a statement. "He's buying it as a personal investment because he loves the brand," said Fortune's president Alan Murray. "Fortune is unique among legacy media companies in that it now gets the majority of its revenue from digital and conferences. We're poised for growth and now we have an owner who is eager to invest." Fortune is one of several titles in the old Time Inc portfolio changing hands following acquisition by Meredith Corp. Time magazine was bought earlier this year by Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff for $190m. New owners are still sought for Sports Illustrated and Money.
Adbrands Weekly Update 20th Sep 2018: Iconic news magazine Time has been acquired by Salesforce.com's founder Marc Benioff for $190m. It is perhaps the clearest demonstration to-date of the parlous state of the global magazine industry that one of its most revered brands has become a vanity purchase for a technology billionaire. Time will remain entirely separate from Salesforce.com, owned personally by Benioff and his wife; he says it will remain entirely independent editorially. "We're investing in a company with tremendous impact on the world, one that is also an incredibly strong business," said Benioff. The magazine is being sold by media group Meredith, which acquired larger rival Time Inc in 2017. It has kept Time Inc's mass-market and female oriented titles but is selling several others that don't fit as neatly into its existing portfolio. Sports Illustrated and Fortune are also seeking buyers. According to insiders, Time generated revenues of $173m in 2017, with operating profit of $33m. Revenue is forecast to decline by nearly 9% in 2018 to $158m, while operating income will be about the same. Meredith will continue to provide Time with services including marketing, subscription fulfilment, paper purchasing and printing. However several observers warned that the magazine will struggle to hold its own as a standalone title without the infrastructure provided by a larger stable of supporting titles.
Adbrands Weekly Update 31st May 2018: Meredith Corporation has received interest from as many as 80 potential bidders, according to Vanity Fair, for the quartet of Time Inc titles it has put up for sale: Time itself, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money. An offer of $300m for all four from National Enquirer publisher David Pecker was quickly declined. Indeed, Sports Illustrated alone is expected to go for more than $200m. An unnamed insider told Vanity Fair "We're all crossing our fingers for a benevolent billionaire. Everyone looks at The Washington Post under Jeff Bezos and is praying for the same." Meanwhile, Time's UK division - the one-time IPC Magazines - is to rebrand as TI Media in June, following its acquisition by private equity firm Epiris. It remains one of the leaders in the much diminished UK magazine market with a stable of around 40 titles including Marie Claire, Woman, Wallpaper and Country Life. "We are proud of all we have achieved as Time Inc UK over the last four years and, before that, as IPC Media over many years," said chief executive Marcus Rich. "While we wanted our new name to speak to that successful past – with the T of Time Inc and the I of IPC – we also wanted it to be adaptable to suit the ways we will evolve and look to extend that success under our new ownership."
Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Mar 2018: The dismantling of what was until recently the world's biggest magazine publisher continues. Following on its acquisition of Time Inc, Meredith Corp officially put on the sales block another collection of that sadly diminished behemoth's flagship brands. We're not talking niche anymore. Buyers are now sought for Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Money and indeed Time itself. Hardly surprising considering those titles' poor fit with Meredith's existing housewife-friendly portfolio, but it rather makes you wonder what the point was of buying Time Inc in the first place. Just for People? Around 1,200 employees will also be looking for new jobs. Time Inc's UK division - the former IPC Magazines - and niche titles Sunset, Essence and Golf have already been sold to private equity. Buyers for the latest orphans are also likely to be private equity investors or wealthy individuals with an interest in a vanity purchase.
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