Adam Putz March 26, 2017
Multiple parties, including Better Homes and Gardens publisher Meredith (NYSE: MDP) and a team comprising Pamplona Capital Management and Jahm Najafi, are close to acquiring Time (NYSE: TIME) in a deal that could value the company at roughly $20 per share, according to Bloomberg. An acquisition for that price would mean a price tag of about $2 billion for Time, the publisher of People, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and several other magazines.
The sale process could conclude as early as next week or drag out a bit longer, as a handful of other bidders, including one publicly listed company, are reportedly still in the hunt. The imminent sale has prompted Time to delay its deadline for nominating new members for its board of directors to April 21 and to move its meeting for shareholders from early June to June 29, according to the New York Post.
Meredith first reached out to Time at the beginning of this year to express a renewed interest in acquiring the publisher after Time turned down a $2 billion offer from Edgar Bronfman Jr. and co-investors. Meredith and Time nearly came together in 2013, but Time Warner’s CEO Jeff Bewkes elected to separate Time from its parent company rather than merge the magazine publishing business with Meredith's own.
Although Time, like other stalwarts of print media, has struggled to ramp up its digital ad business, dealmaking among US corporate investors in media has hardly fallen off even as it has slowed recently. Earlier this month, American Media, the US publisher of National Enquirer, OK! and Star, doubled down on its presence among supermarket-checkout magazines by agreeing to acquire Us Weekly from Wenner Media, the publisher of Rolling Stone and Men's Journal.
Since 2010, US corporate investors have completed 1,923 M&A deals in media, per the PitchBook Platform. But last year deal flow fell to its lowest level in five years after peaking in 2014. Completed US media M&A deals—Charter’s $63 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable chief among them—have largely involved broadcast, radio and television companies (28% of the total), with publishing accounting for 21% of all deals in media since 2010.
If the deal for Time goes through, it will mark Meredith’s 14th media acquisition since 2010. A list of the top seven investors in this highly competitive space includes some familiar names:
1. Sinclair Broadcast Group (29)
2. Salem Media Group (27)
3. Gray Television (25)
4. Discovery Communications (22)
5. Saga Communications (21)
6. Nexstar Media Group (17)
7. Alphabet (15)
Bronfman’s group finally walked away from the bidding process earlier this month. Should this latest deal fail to materialize, Time may well move forward with a series of divestitures to bolster its budding digital business, per Bloomberg. And the publisher reportedly remains open to bids from private investors.
Time’s shares closed at $19.25 on Monday, giving it a market cap of roughly $1.9 billion. The value of the company’s shares has steadily climbed over 40% since November 25, when Bronfman’s group submitted its offer.
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