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Money-Losing Maxim Magazine Sold to Atlanta’s Calvin Dard

Maxim magazine, the bawdy men’s title taken over by creditors after a $250 million buyout, was sold to Darden Media Group, which plans to turn the brand into a cable network.

Darden Media, run by Chairman Calvin Darden Sr., will buy Maxim from Alpha Media Group, a New York-based company controlled by Cerberus Capital Management LP, according to a statement yesterday. The sale includes Maxim’s U.S. magazine, sold in 49 countries, 15 international editions, an events business and digital assets.

The transaction closes out an ill-timed buyout that left the magazine, once a leading men’s title, in the hands of its creditors. Darden said he plans to extend the Maxim brand across cable TV, radio and music, countering the shifts that have hurt the publishing industry as audiences move online.

“We look forward to investing in and building upon its leading global platform,” Darden said in the statement. “The opportunities to create powerful, transmedia brands that engage consumers and advertisers on multiple platforms is significantly on the rise.”

Darden, 63, rose to senior vice president of U.S. operations for United Parcel Service Inc., according to the website of his Atlanta-based real estate company, Darden Development Group. He serves on the boards of Target Corp., Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. and Cardinal Health Inc.

2007 Sale

Maxim and two sister publications, Blender and Stuff, were purchased from U.K. publishing impresario Felix Dennis in 2007 by a group led by Quadrangle Capital Partners LP, just before the recession gutted the magazine industry’s profits. As ad sales dropped, Quadrangle stopped making payments on $160 million in debt, a person with knowledge of the situation said in July.

Bids came in the range of $20 million, one-tenth of the original purchase price, people familiar with the situation said then. Alpha Media is expected to lose $3 million to $5 million this year, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the matter is confidential.

Annual ad sales dropped 18 percent to $112 million last year, compared with a 2.9 percent slide among magazines as a whole, according to the Publisher’s Information Bureau.

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