Commentary

Time Inc. Puts Mags, UK Division Up For Sale

Having recently rejected a proposed sale of the entire company, Time Inc. is still open to strategic divestments.


The publisher is looking to pay off debt and streamline operations by potentially selling assets, including magazines such as Essence, Coastal Living, Sunset and Golf, as well as its entire British publishing division, according to a regulatory filing from its U.S. headquarters.

Time Inc. UK, known as IPC Media before a rebrand in 2014, publishes the British editions of popular titles including Marie Claire and Wallpaper. Time Inc. acquired the UK publisher in 2001 for $1.6 billion, but recent trends in publishing suggest the unit’s new price tag may be considerably smaller.

The British division is also considering the sale of individual properties, including its flagship magazines. 

Altogether, the assets listed for sale account for 17% of Time Inc.’s total revenues.

The announcement comes close on the heels of more steep declines in advertising and circulation revenues at Time Inc. Total revenues fell 10% from $769 million in the second quarter of 2016 to $694 million in the second quarter of 2017.

Operating income fell from $50 million to a loss of $38 million. Ad revenues were down 12% to $374 million, chiefly due to the long-term decline in print ads, while circ also fell 12% to $207 million. 

After scotching the idea of selling the whole company in April, in August, Time Inc. announced a plan to cut costs by $400 million across the company, including the potential divestments listed above.

However, the publisher emphasized that no final agreements have been reached in any divestitures, which are likely to include multiple buyers and could include a number of other assets. In the same financial filing, the company stated the sales could be complete as early as the fourth quarter.

The issue of a potential sale first came to the fore in November 2016, fueled by an unsolicited bid for the publisher by entertainment investor Edgar Bronfman Jr., which the company dismissed out of hand. Time Inc. and women’s interest publisher Meredith Corp. have also explored potential tie-ups, with no agreement as yet.

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