Thursday 22 August 2019

US billionaires back Time buyout

Time magazine copies are displayed on a table in Washington. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Time magazine copies are displayed on a table in Washington. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Gerry Smith

Meredith, publisher of American magazines including 'Traditional Homes' and 'Martha Stewart Living' has agreed to acquire Time for $2.8bn including debt, swallowing the once-mighty home of 'Fortune' and 'Sports Illustrated' after the internet age wreaked havoc on even the most prestigious magazine titles.

Time was spun out of Time Warner as a separate unit in 2014. The all-cash deal at $18.50 a share gives Meredith a larger audience to compete with Facebook and Google in attracting advertisers.

The acquisition also provides the billionaire Koch brothers, who agreed to support Meredith's offer with an equity injection of $650m, a stake in well-known media brands like 'Time' magazine.

Koch Equity Development, the brothers' investment arm, won't have a seat on Meredith's board or have influence on its editorial or managerial operations, according to the statement.

The Kochs' involvement may raise new questions about political influence on news media, especially an enduring journalistic outlet like 'Time' magazine, which was founded in 1923 and originally run by Henry Luce.

The Koch brothers have spent decades building a network of wealthy political donors who pledge money to conservative causes and their advocacy groups.

Time CEO Rich Battista will work with Meredith during the transition and is expected to leave when the deal closes, his company said in a statement.

This was at least the third time Meredith has attempted to acquire Time since 2013. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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