Mag Bag: 'BusinessWeek' Auction Heats Up

Mort Zuckerman

Zuckerman Joins BusinessWeek Fray

The BusinessWeek auction, at first a seemingly lukewarm affair, is heating up with the entry of additional contenders. The latest to throw his hat in the ring is Mort Zuckerman, the owner of the New York Daily News, who is one of five bidders now competing for the title, according to the magazine's Web site. In Zuckerman's case, "latest" is an especially apt description: The deadline for bids passed in mid-September.

Along with Zuckerman, other bidders include Bloomberg Media, OpenGate Capital, ZelnickMedia and Platinum Equity Partners. For a period, Bloomberg Media was the only serious bidder, but in subsequent weeks, the other bidders have emerged. Nonetheless, Bloomberg is still considered the leading contender, given its commitment to financial news and its own resources.



It's not surprising that McGraw-Hill, BusinessWeek's publisher, is accepting late bids: The slow pace at which the various bidders have joined the auction suggests muted interest, and therefore probably lower bids. In this situation, any new bid that might drive up the price is welcomed. None of the bids have been made public, so it's hard to know whether Zuckerman's bid will actually make the auction more competitive.

McGraw-Hill has to fight an uphill battle, especially considering the well-publicized woes of the magazine and the business category in general. Through the third week of September, BusinessWeek's ad pages have declined 36% this year compared to last year, according to MIN. 

The general apathy which characterizes the BusinessWeek sale has become standard for auctions of print properties in recent years. The auction of the Tribune Co. was remarkable for its lack of activity, and recently, individual newspapers have languished on the market for even longer periods. Currently, the New York Times Co. is trying to sell The Boston Globe, while McClatchy hopes to unload the Miami Herald -- but neither auction appears to be attracting any serious bidders.

Conde Nast to Cut Costs 25%

Following an outside evaluation by McKinsey, the high-end magazine publisher is ordering executives to cut costs by 25% in a major overhaul aimed at putting the company on a stable financial footing. According to the New York Observer, the cuts will probably take place beginning later this month, after the budget for 2010 is finalized, but could continue through the rest of this year, and maybe even into January.

The Buff Go Buff for ESPN The Magazine

Figuring that nudity is always a winner, ESPN The Magazine's forthcoming "Body Issue" will include photographs of over 30 male and female athletes posing in various states of undress, according to Folio. With six different covers showcasing a different athlete, the issue also offers a meta-critique in the form of an essay about how athletes use sex appeal to boost their profile and their earnings. If successful, the body issue could return in subsequent years, like Sports Illustrated's famed Swimsuit Issue. It remains to be seen what gender balance the magazine chooses to strike -- an important issue, considering the mostly male readership.

Mike Smith to Head

Mike Smith has been appointed president of Taking one of the posts recently vacated by Jim Spanfeller (who also served as president of Forbes Media), Smith will assume responsibility for not only, but the Business & Finance Blog Network and Previously, Smith held the title of senior vice president and general manager for, where he led application development, engineering and operations.

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