Commentary

Bonnier, Ziff Davis Drop Out Of Rodale Auction

Two serious prospective buyers for health and wellness publisher Rodale are dropping out of the auction.


Enthusiast publisher Bonnier Corp. and niche/technology publisher Ziff Davis both failed to submit a bid by August 3, the deadline for offers, according to the New York Post, which first reported the news, citing sources familiar with the sale process.

Bonnier and Ziff Davis were still in the running at the beginning of last week. It's not clear what prompted the last-minute decisions to wave off. Rodale is privately owned, so the amount of potential bids and the company’s own financial situation have not been made available to the public.

Both companies would have been good matches, at least in terms of owning complementary properties to Rodale’s portfolio, which includes Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Runner’s World and Bicycling.

Bonnier owns titles including Field & Stream and Outdoor Life, as well as numerous sports-enthusiast titles.

Ziff Davis brands include Everyday Health and Askmen, along with tech, shopping and gaming titles.

In addition to withdrawing from the Rodale auction, Bonnier Corp. announced it is shuttering Sport Rider, one of its motorcycle enthusiast titles. The move is accompanied by an undisclosed number of layoffs and a new model for content and sales specialization, centralizing responsibilities for over a dozen motorcycle media brands, according to the publisher.

A number of big publishers and media figures may still be in the running to acquire Rodale or some of its properties.

Previously, Hearst and Meredith Corp. were both said to be interested in buying the whole company, while American Media Inc. was reportedly interested in acquiring Men’s Health. Industry scuttlebutt had David Zinczenko, the high-profile former editor-in-chief of Men’s Health, possibly playing a role in orchestrating an acquisition.

For its part, Rodale has been moving to put its finances on a firmer footing, as it looks to attract suitors. In May, the publisher agreed to set aside the proceeds from the planned sale of two properties near its headquarters in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, to repay a 2015 loan from M&T Bank.

Rodale is asking more than $4 million for the two properties, which have yet to sell. It is earmarking part of the cash from the sale for repayment of the loan. The loan was originally obtained by pledging Rodale’s corporate headquarters in Emmaus, as well as Runner’s World and Women’s Health magazines, as collateral.

Rodale still owns a considerable amount of real estate around Emmaus, with 16 parcels of land worth an estimated $23 million.

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