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Penske Media Corp. acquires Variety

PMC chief Jay Penske hails purchase of 'world's premier entertainment news source'

Variety has changed hands for the second time in its 107-year history. Digital media dynamo Penske Media Corp. has completed a deal with Reed Business Information to acquire the brand hailed by PMC chairman-CEO Jay Penske as “the world’s premier entertainment news source.”

The deal concludes a sale process that began in March, when RBI put the Variety group of assets up for sale as it moved its corporate focus away from advertising-dependent businesses.

PMC has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2004 by Penske to become a major player in the digital entertainment media space through its news outlets Deadline, TVLine, Movieline and HollywoodLife, among others. PMC, which has a track record of keeping its businesses autonomous, also has investments in Web content in categories ranging from sports and automotive to health, shopping, fashion and beauty.

“Since 1905, Variety has been the world’s premier entertainment news source and is today one of the most recognized global media brands,” Penske said. “We are thrilled to welcome Variety and its exceptional team into the PMC organization. As part of this significant acquisition, we plan to rapidly build upon Variety’s foundation while extending this invaluable brand’s presence across the Web, broadcast, mobile and international markets.”

Said Variety prexy Neil Stiles: “PMC is uniquely positioned to preserve and build the market presence of Variety. Their shared values and complementary assets provides for many new opportunities for the business model and brand.”

Stiles emphasized in a memo to staffers that the sale to PMC would enhance Variety’s standing as a “world-class business and a brand with an abundance of opportunity to evolve the business model.”

Amid a sea change in the business landscape for all print publications, Variety in recent years has expanded beyond its core print biz to include data services and a fast-growing conference series. The pact with PMC includes the Variety Insight data biz, encompassing the Variety Archives, TVTracker and Flixtracker, as well as the LA 411 industry resource guide.

Stiles will exit his post as Variety topper after serving as consultant during the transition period from RBI to PMC.

RBI has owned Variety since 1987, when its Cahners Publishing unit bought Daily Variety and weekly Variety from the Silverman family. Sime Silverman founded Variety in 1905 as a Gotham-based weekly paper covering vaudeville and the legit world. The paper expanded to Hollywood in 1933 with the launch of Daily Variety. Four generations of Silvermans steered the business until the Cahners acquisition.

Today, Variety’s print and digital publications have global reach, with offices in L.A., Gotham and London and a network of correspondents stretching from Beijing to Buenos Aires.

Financial specifics of the RBI-PMC deal were not disclosed. Debt and equity financing for the transaction was provided by affiliates of Third Point. Evercore Partners advised RBI parent Reed Elsevier on the sale transaction.

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