Time Inc. Said to Spurn Takeover Approach by Bronfman, Kreiz

  • Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries said to have backed proposal
  • Duo floated all-cash offer of $18-$20 a share, or $2 billion

People walk inside the headquarters of Time Inc. in New York.

Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Time Inc., the iconic magazine publisher that’s trying to reinvent itself, spurned a recent takeover offer for as much as $2 billion from investors Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Ynon Kreiz, according to a person familiar with the matter.

With the backing of Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, Bronfman and Kreiz floated an all-cash offer in the range of $18 to $20 a share, according to a letter reviewed by Bloomberg News. That would represent a premium of as much as 37 percent over Time Inc.’s closing price Friday of $13.80. In their Oct. 20 letter, the investors said they were resubmitting the bid with the same terms as an earlier proposal, even though the business had deteriorated since.

Shares of Time Inc., the New York-based publisher of Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and other famed magazine brands, rose 16 percent to $16 at the close Monday, the most since the company’s 2014 spinoff from Time Warner Inc.

Bronfman, Kreiz and Blavatnik have long histories together in the media and entertainment world. Bronfman, a managing partner of the private equity firm Accretive LLC, was chairman of Warner Music Group, which is controlled by Blavatnik’s Access Industries. Kreiz was formerly chief executive officer of online-video producer Maker Studios, which was sold to Walt Disney Co. in 2014. Both Bronfman and Kreiz serve on the Warner Music board.

Time Inc. has been struggling to adapt to a digital world. Sometimes-activist investor Jana Partners acquired a stake in the company this year, prompting a management shakeup.

Under new CEO Rich Battista, the company is working to expand its online businesses, including streaming video, to reduce its dependence on print magazines, which are losing advertising clients to online publishers.

Time is also reorganizing how it sells advertising, aiming to boost revenue by creating more custom content for sponsors and making it easier for marketers to buy ads across its magazine portfolio. Such ads -- promotional content that’s designed to look like editorial articles and videos -- have become the lifeblood of digital media companies like BuzzFeed and Vice Media.

Spokesmen for Time Inc., Access Industries and Jana Partners declined to comment.

The New York Post reported earlier Monday on the takeover bid for Time Inc.

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