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Time Inc has decided not to sell itself, ending months of speculation over the future of the publisher of Time, People and Sports Illustrated.
The company has drawn the interest of several suitors in recent months, nearly three years after it spun off from Time Warner, and a number of potential buyers signed non-disclosure agreements to look at Time’s books.
But on Friday, the publisher said it would remain independent and continue to pursue a strategic plan focused on digital growth and cost-cutting measures. Rich Battista, chief executive, said:
Time Inc. is a reinvigorated company uniquely positioned to succeed in the multi-platform media marketplace with an exceptional set of brands and assets, tremendous scale and significant untapped potential. The company is better positioned to capitalize on this potential with its recent shift from a siloed, legacy publishing structure, to an integrated, enterprise platform structure.
John Fahey, Time’s lead independent director, said the board has “full confidence” in Mr Battista and his management team.
Time Inc has struggled as standalone company. Last year, print ads and circulation revenue, which together accounted for 70 per cent of its $3.08bn in total revenue, each dropped 9 per cent. The publisher expects 2017 revenue to dip to $3bn, its sixth straight year of decline. And it carries an additional burden of $1.2bn in long-term debt.
Time had drawn interest from a number of potential buyers including Meredith, the publisher of Better Homes and Gardens and Martha Stewart Living, and an investment group backed by Edgar Bronfman Jr, former chief executive of Warner Music, Len Blavatnik, the billionaire owner of Warner Music Group, and Ynon Kreiz, who ran Maker Studios. However, the Bronfman and Blavatnik group dropped out of the running in March after concluding that there was a “valuation gap” between what the group was willing to pay and what Time Inc believed it was worth.