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Sunday 22 September 2019

Time Inc’s UK arm sold to private equity firm Epiris in £120 million deal

The sale is understood to be valued at around 167 million dollars (£119 million).

A picture of money, as Time Inc's UK business is sold (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
A picture of money, as Time Inc's UK business is sold (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Ben Woods, Press Association Chief City Correspondent

The new owners of Time Inc have carved out the UK business by securing a near £120 million sale to private equity outfit Epiris.

Meridith Corporation has offloaded the UK unit’s 50-strong portfolio of brands just three months after it seized control of the magazine publisher in a £2.1 billion swoop.

Epiris, which has snapped up the home of NME, Woman’s Weekly, Country Life and Wallpaper through its Epiris II Fund, aims to bring “clarity and simplicity” to the business.

The NME is one of the magazines to have been acquired (Yui Mok/PA)

The deal is valued at around 167 million dollars (£119 million), a source told the Press Association.

Chris Hanna, partner at Epiris, said: “At its heart this is a diverse, robust and cash-generative business.

“We intend to bring clarity and simplicity to it, to focus on maximising the potential of its high-quality portfolio.”

Time Inc’s UK brands reach around 17 million people and 13 million online, with entertainment titles What’s On TV and TV Times selling more than a million copies per week.

As part of the deal, New Scientist chairman Sir Bernard Gray will be installed as executive chairman of the company led by chief executive Marcus Rich.

The sale is expected to be sealed by the end of the first quarter this year.

Sir Bernard Gray (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Alex Fortescue, managing partner of Epiris, said: “This deal is a complex corporate carve-out of the type in which we specialise.

“The business itself offers plentiful scope for transformation through operational improvement and M&A.”

The tie-up between Time Inc group and Meredith Corporation was announced in November last year when the board of both firms backed Meridith’s 18.50-per-share cash offer to buy all the outstanding shares of Time.

Time Inc owns a string of US titles including the eponymous current affairs magazine, NME, Sports Illustrated and Fortune, while Meredith Corporation holds magazines such as Eating Well and Better Homes & Gardens, as well as a number of US TV stations.

The takeover was billed as creating a media and marketing firm with revenues of 4.8 billion dollars (£3.6 billion), earnings of 800 million dollars (£599 million), and total advertising revenues of 2.7 billion dollars (£2 billion).

It is also expected to stump up cost savings of between 400 million dollars (£299 million) and 500 million dollars (£375 million) within the first two years.

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