Key Bids For Time Inc Advance

No one is close to signing on the dotted line yet, but two separate efforts to acquire Time Inc., the nation’s largest magazine publisher, are edging closer to that possibility.

The parallel bids by Meredith Corp. and an investment group led by entertainment exec Edgar Bronfman Jr. have progressed to the signing of nondisclosure agreements by both parties with Time Inc., according to unnamed sources cited by The Wall Street Journal.

The signing of nondisclosure agreements sets the stage for Time Inc. to “open the kimono,” in the creepy parlance of the corporate mating dance, by sharing confidential details about the state of its finances, business partnerships, advertising clients and other inner workings not usually shared publicly released investor reports.

Several other potential bidders are also said to have reached this stage, but they remain unidentified.

Meredith and Time Inc. originally flirted with a merger back in 2013, when a deal with the women’s interest publisher was one of several options considered by Time Inc.’s management as they prepared to separate from corporate parent Time Warner. But the talks ended inconclusively.

Time Inc. eventually spun off from Time Warner as a standalone company in 2014.

More recently, Time Inc. brushed off an initial takeover bid from Bronfman, the Seagram’s heir who engineered an ill-fated takeover of Warner Music Group and ran the music publisher from 2004-11. Near the end of last year, Bronfman’s investment group Access Industries, which he runs with billionaire Len Blavatnik, made a bid of $18 per share for Time Inc., valuing the company at $1.78 billion.

That offer would have represented a premium of 30.2% over the company’s previous share price of $13.83, but the publisher evidently considered this bid too low.

Still, in December, Time Inc. hired Morgan Stanley and Bank of America to help it evaluate potential offers to buy the magazine publisher or enter into partnership. Among other options, the publisher could elect to bring in a minority investor, supplying capital for acquisitions and new technology initiatives, rather than sell outright.

Next story loading loading..