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Money News

Why did Meredith Just Buy Time Inc? We Explain

November 27, 2017

  • Time Inc. is selling itself to Meredith Corporation
  • Meredith will purchase Time Inc. for $2.8 billion
  • Traditional print media is suffering, but the deal with its premium represents faith in the brand names of the combined companies
3 min read

Time Inc., one of the most famous names in print media, announced over the weekend that it will sell itself to competing publisher Meredith Corporation.

Meredith, based in Des Moines, Iowa, is the publisher of family-oriented titles such as Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, and the website AllRecipes.com, among other publications. It will spend $2.8 billion in cash to acquire Time, publisher of newsier titles including Fortune, People, Sports Illustrated, and Time magazine.

The combined companies will reach 200 million consumers, according to Meredith, and the purchase price represents a 46% premium to Time Inc.’s most recent stock value, according to reports. A premium is an amount paid above the actual value of a company.

By paying more than Time Inc. is worth, Meredith is reportedly suggesting to the market there is untapped value inherent in combining the two companies.

Meredith is considered by some to be more diversified than Time, because it owns 17 local television stations in addition to its magazines and websites

“The vision is the absolute premiere media company in the country with premium branded content on every platform,” Stephen Lacy, Meredith’s chairman and chief executive told the Wall Street Journal in a recent interview. “We’re very excited to bring these businesses together.”

Here are the highlights:

Some history

Time Inc., based in New York, was once one of the most storied publishers in the industry, producing some of the best-known magazine brands, including Life magazine. It was founded in 1922 by Henry Luce and Briton Hadden with an $85,000 investment.

Their goal was reportedly to present news in a new narrative and pictorial format for an increasingly urban and busy population. Time was formerly one of the largest publishers in the world. Today it publishes 100 titles, and claims to have 30 million print subscribers.

Meredith launched in 1902 under the guidance of publisher Thomas Meredith. It’s initial publication was Successful Farmer. It’s most successful title today is Better Homes, which has a circulation of 7 million, according to the New York Times.

Industrialists Charles and David Koch reportedly provided $650 million for the purchase through their private equity fund. The brothers have previously expressed interest in buying a media company to serve as a platform for their conservative political opinions, according to media experts.

Complicated relationships

This isn’t the first time Time Inc. has either merged or been acquired by another company.

In 1989, Time Inc. merged with Warner Communications, to form the media conglomerate Time Warner. Time Warner then spun off Time Inc. in 2014. A spin off is when a company separates out one of its units, frequently with the intention of selling it to another company or operating it independently.

The Internet company AOL also purchased Time Warner in 2000 for $162 billion. The merger, which analysts ultimately considered a disaster, ended in 2009 when the two companies split up.

This time around, things are a bit different. The traditional media industry, which relies on print publications like magazines and newspapers, is in a state of decline. Fewer consumers turn to print publications for information, as more consumers have gotten their news from online and video sources.

Although Time Inc. had revenue of $3 billion in 2016, it had no profit. Instead, it had a loss of $48 million, according to its most recent annual report. That means the company brought in billions of dollars in sales, primarily from advertisers. However, the cost to operate the business was greater than the cash it took in.

Meredith is considered by some to be more diversified than Time Inc., because it owns 17 local television stations in addition to its magazines and websites. It had $1.7 billion of revenue according to its 2016 annual report, and profit of $33 million.

What happens to stock price during a merger?

News of mergers and acquisitions frequently affects stock price. Time Inc.’s stock price has fallen 46% in 2017. In early November, the company’s share price was less than $11. But news of the acquisition by Meredith sent Time Inc.’s price up to $18.43 by mid-day on Monday. Meredith’s stock price also rose 13% to $68.91 on Monday.


By Jeremy Quittner
Jeremy Quittner is the senior writer for Stash.

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