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Meredith Agrees to Buy Time Inc. for $2.8 Billion With Koch Brothers' Backing

Meredith Agrees to Buy Time Inc. for $2.8 Billion With Koch Brothers' Backing
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Sunday, 26 November 2017 08:45 PM

Meredith Corp. agreed to acquire Time Inc. for $2.8 billion including debt, swallowing the once-mighty home of Fortune and Sports Illustrated after the internet age wreaked havoc on even the most prestigious magazine titles.

The all-cash deal at $18.50 a share gives Meredith, publisher of Better Homes & Gardens, a larger audience to compete with Facebook and Google in attracting advertisers. The acquisition also provides the billionaire Koch brothers, who agreed to support Meredith’s offer with an equity injection of $650 million, a stake in well-known media brands like Time magazine.

Koch Equity Development, the brothers’ investment arm, won’t have a seat on Meredith’s board or have influence on its editorial or managerial operations, according to the statement.

The Kochs’ involvement may raise new questions about political influence on the news media, especially an enduring journalistic outlet like Time magazine, founded in 1923 and originally run by Henry Luce. The Koch brothers have spent decades building a network of wealthy political donors who pledge money to conservative causes and their advocacy groups.

Time Chief Executive Officer Rich Battista will work with Meredith during the transition and is expected to leave when the deal closes, his company said in a statement.

Like its competitors, New York-based Time has struggled to reinvent itself as print advertising dries up. The magazine owner has spent months restructuring its business, trying to sell some magazines, replacing senior management and hoping to persuade advertisers to pour money into its titles.

This was at least the third time Meredith has attempted to acquire Time since 2013. Based in Des Moines, Iowa, Meredith largely focuses on women, with other titles like Shape and Parents magazines. It was one of a handful of bidders that made competing offers for Time earlier this year, but the sale was scrapped. The company has fared better than Time in the internet era in part because it also owns a collection of local television stations, which haven’t been hit as hard by the rise of the web.

Once part of Time Warner Inc., Time Inc. was spun out as a separate unit in 2014 after talks to merge the division with Meredith collapsed.

In May of this year, Time Inc. announced plans to sell some magazines or other properties as it tried to push ahead with a digital strategy. Now it joins other longtime publishers that are selling altogether. Rodale Inc. agreed to part ways with Men’s Health and other titles last month, and Rolling Stone is currently on the block.

Time Inc.’s financial advisers for the transaction are Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp. BDT & Co. and Moelis & Co. are advising Meredith.

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Meredith Corp. agreed to acquire Time Inc. for $2.8 billion including debt, swallowing the once-mighty home of Fortune and Sports Illustrated after the internet age wreaked havoc on even the most prestigious magazine titles.
koch brothers, time inc, meredith, deal
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2017-45-26
Sunday, 26 November 2017 08:45 PM
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