Meredith Contacts Time to Express Interest in Merger

  • Media companies nearly combined in 2013 before talks ended
  • Time board said to meet later this month to evaluate options

Meredith Expresses Interest in Merger With Time

Meredith Corp. has contacted Time Inc. to express interest in a potential merger, according to people familiar with the matter, rekindling a possible tie-up that died in 2013.

Other strategic companies and privately held businesses have also been in touch with Time about a possible deal, one of the people said. No talks have yet been held with interested parties, the person said. Time shares climbed as much as 11 percent in New York. As of 3:28 p.m., they rose 3.5 percent, valuing the company at about $1.9 billion.

Time’s board is expected to meet later this month to discuss its options, which include pushing forward as an independent company, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details aren’t public.

Meredith’s interest in Time would pose a challenge to Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Ynon Kreiz, who remain interested in the iconic magazine publisher despite having their offer of about $2 billion spurned late last year, the people said.

Meredith, based in Des Moines, hasn’t yet decided if it wants to double down on the publishing industry instead of trying to gain scale in broadcasting, the people said.

Representatives for New York-based Time and Meredith declined to comment.

Meredith owns magazines including Better Homes and Gardens and Parents and 14 broadcast TV stations reaching about 12 million U.S. households, according to the company’s website. Time publishes magazines including its eponymous Time title, as well as Sports Illustrated and Fortune.

Dead Deals

Media General Inc., the Richmond, Virginia-based broadcast and digital media company, agreed to acquire Meredith in 2015, putting together the two companies’ TV stations. That deal fell apart last year when Nexstar agreed to buy Media General as a counter proposal.

Time and Meredith discussed a deal in 2013 that would have brought the bulk of Time’s U.S. magazine titles under Meredith’s ownership, a person familiar with the talks said at the time.

Time Warner Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes decided to separate Time from the parent company instead of merging it with Meredith. Time Warner would have kept some of the company’s best known magazines, potentially including Time, Fortune and Sports Illustrated, under the terms of the deal discussed. Bewkes instead chose a spinoff to clear Time Warner of the magazine business altogether.

“We are interested in expanding across all of our platforms,” Meredith Chief Financial Officer Joseph Ceryanec said Wednesday at the Citi Global Internet, Media and Telecommunications Conference in Las Vegas.

Ceryanec said the company would look at expanding across all of Meredith’s platforms, including magazine, digital and local broadcast.

“Obviously we’re not going to comment on any specific deal at this point,” he said.

(An earlier version of this story corrected Joseph Ceryanec’s title in the 11th paragraph.)

— With assistance by Lucas Shaw, and Gerry Smith

(Adds detail on previous merger attempt in 10th paragraph.)
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