The auction for the four magazines that were the beating heart of the old Time Inc. empire — Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money — is moving toward final bids by the suitors to Meredith Corp. by July 2.
That means the sell-off is taking a tad longer than Meredith hoped, but the company is still expecting a hefty return despite the titles’ recent ad slumps. The cachet of the brand names is helping to fuel the auction anticipation.
There are now two to three finalists — down from the 45 to 50 who submitted initial bids — eyeing each title, said a source close to the situation.
Among those who looked early on and are still believed to be in the hunt: Jimmy Finkelstein, the owner of The Hill and a former part owner of everything from The Hollywood Reporter to legal trade pubs; Jay Penske, whose Penske Media owns Rolling Stone, Variety and Women’s Wear Daily and who landed a $200 million investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund; and Studio VC, a Liam Lynch-helmed venture firm that owns Broadway.com and purchased the IrishCentral website for $3 million in 2016.
There is also said to be a mystery vanity buyer looking at Fortune and Money.
Edgar Bronfman Jr. was approached to join one of the bidding teams but balked at taking smaller slices of the pie this time.
He, of course, had teamed with two other billionaires, Len Blavatnik and Ynon Kreiz, in 2016 to try to buy the whole Time Inc. for $18 a share but eventually dropped out of the hunt, which was won by Meredith in a $2.8 billion deal ($18.50 a share, including $1.85 billion in cash and close to $1 billion in assumed debt).
Meredith early on had rejected a preemptive offer from National Enquirer owner American Media Inc. for about $375 million for all four titles.
More recently, the company is said to be expecting to fetch more than $200 million each for the magazines.
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