by: Shanthi Rexaline, Benzinga Staff Writer
Time Inc TIME, which was spun off from Time Warner Inc TWX in mid-2014, could be another casualty of an industry-wide malaise that has rendered print media on the brink of extinction. As print advertising revenues suffered, the company was striving to make a mark in the digital arena.
Time To Officially Launch A Bid?
Quoting people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Time has asked potential bidders to submit bids by next week. The publisher of Time, People and Sports Illustrated apparently wants to find out how much the interested parties are willing to offer in deciding whether to sell the entire business or individual magazine titles.
The people Bloomberg quoted, on the condition of anonymity, suggested that the company may not proceed with the sale at all. Five companies were reportedly interested in Time.
Of these, one was identified by the Bloomberg source as the Meredith Corporation MDP and the second as an investor group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. At least one of the remaining three bidders is a public company, the source seems to have told Bloomberg. After coming together to negotiate a merger in 2013, Meredith and Time failed to reach an agreement then.
The recent Bloomberg report suggested that Time might also be seeking an investment from private investors.
In December last, Wells Fargo analyst Eric Katz said in a note the combination of Time with Meredith would create a combined company with revenue of $4.8 billion and EBITDA of $1 billion. Katz also broached the possibility of THE HEARST Corp. making a bid for Time. "Until a deal does or doesn't happen, we view TIME as sort of stuck—hence we maintain our Market Perform," Katz said in the note.
With Time reportedly formally soliciting a bid, Benzinga looked at the events in the run up to the current development:
- Amid Time's attempts at repositioning itself as a broad-based digital media company, it attracted the attention of several activist investors such as Jana Partners and Lee Cooperman's Omega Advisors.
- Around this time, there were rumors that the company might be forging an alliance with Meredith Corp.
- On Nov. 28, 2016, the New York Post reported Bronfman Jr., is bidding for People, Time and Sports Illustrated. Bronfman Jr., along with Len Blavatnik's Access Industries, and Israeli billionaire Ynon Kreiz reportedly submitted a bid to buy the company for $18 per share, a 30 premium to the closing price of the company's stock in the previous session. Access had bought Warner Music Group from Bronfman for $3.3 billion in May 2011 in a friendly takeover. The offer made by the trio of billionaires was reportedly spurned by Time.
- On Dec. 8, there were unconfirmed rumors that Time has hired bankers to advise on a potential sale or striking a partnership pact.
- Meanwhile, the New York Post reported in January 2017 that National Enquirer owner American Media may be interested in Time. The source quoted by the New York Post suggested that National Enquirer will team up with Meredith Corp in launching the bid.
Time reported in mid-February underwhelming earnings per share and revenues for the fourth quarter. The 2017 revenue guidance was also light. There could be more twists in the tale, as this media M&A plays out. Stay tuned!
Image Credit: Al Capone, By Time Magazine [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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