Time Inc. Calls Off Sale Talks, Vows to Execute on Strategic Plan

Time Inc. is going it alone, for now.

The company’s board of directors has called off discussions with potential suitors and has vowed to continue solo under the leadership of CEO Rich Battista (pictured above), it announced Friday.

In pre-market trading, Time Inc. stock fell more than 19% on the news, down from the stock’s Thursday closing price of $18.30 per share. In the last several months, shares have climbed sharply on the M&A rumors.

Part of Time Inc.’s stated strategic plan includes “continued aggressive re-engineering of the cost structure of the company” — indicating layoffs are in the offing.

Time Inc., owner of marquee magazine brands including Time, People, Sports Illustrated and Fortune, had accepted initial bids from a handful of companies in February. Those were known to have included magazine and TV station owner Meredith Corp. and an investor group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. Verizon also was rumored to be in the mix as part of a bid for Time Inc.

“We strongly believe in the future and potential of this company,” John Fahey, Time Inc.’s lead independent director, said in a statement. “The board has full confidence in Time Inc. president and CEO Rich Battista and the management team to execute on the strategic plan.”

The company reaffirmed its investor guidance for 2017, and plans to announce first-quarter earnings on May 10 before market open. Time Inc. has had a rocky time as a publicly traded company since it was spun off from Time Warner in June 2014.

Under Battista, Time Inc. has mounted a big push to mine its print resources to develop TV programs and digital-video content. That has included the launch of the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN), a free, over-the-top service stocked with original series, mag-related features, and live event coverage.

Battista, a former Fox cable TV exec and ex-CEO of Mandalay Sports Media, also has restructured Time Inc.’s sales organization with the aim of achieving an integrated go-to-market approach spanning multiple brands.

“Time Inc. is a reinvigorated company uniquely positioned to succeed in the multiplatform media marketplace with an exceptional set of brands and assets, tremendous scale and significant untapped potential,” said Battista, who was elevated to the president-CEO role last September after former chief Joe Ripp stepped down for health reasons.

While Time Inc. now has rejected the takeover overtures, Battista added that “our transformation has brought a number of potential partners interested in working with us to unlock and accelerate value across our portfolio of brands.”

Time Inc.’s board last fall was said to have turned down a $1.8 billion buyout offer from an investor group comprising Len Blavatnik, Edgar Bronfman Jr., and ex-Maker Studios CEO Ynon Kreiz. According to reports, the company felt the $18-per-share bid was too low.

In the past year, Time Inc. has seen sales shrink but it’s shored up its losses. For full-year 2016, the company reported $3.08 billion in revenue, down 0.9%, and a net loss of $48 million (versus a net loss of $881 million the year prior). While print ad, subscription and newsstand sales dropped, digital ad revenue climbed 55% for the year, to $512 million.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Eminem’s Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Copyright

    Eminem’s Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Massive Copyright Infringement

    Eminem’s publishing company Eight Mile Style filed a major copyright infringement lawsuit against Spotify late Thursday, claiming that the streaming giant has no license to host about 250 of Eminem’s songs, while also taking aim at the Music Modernization Act, the federal law enacted last year to improve royalty payments for songwriters. The news was [...]

  • iQIYI headquarters building in Beijing

    China’s iQIYI in Talks for Indonesia Expansion

    Chinese streaming firm iQIYI is in negotiations to expand further into Southeast Asia through a venture with Indonesia’s Media Nusantara Citra. iQIYI announced its first step outside Chinese-majority territories in June, when it revealed a linkup in Malaysia with pay-TV leader Astro. It also operates in Taiwan. In April, the company said that it planned [...]

  • Spotify logo is presented on a

    Spotify Triples Free-Trial Period on Premium Service

    Spotify today extended the free-trial period for its Premium service from one month to three, tripling the amount of time listeners can take full advantage of the streaming giant’s offerings without paying for them. According to the announcement, the offer is “always-on/not limited time,” and will roll out across Spotify Premium plans globally: Individual and [...]

  • The Ringer Promotes Sean Fennessey, Mallory

    The Ringer Promotes Sean Fennessey, Mallory Rubin to Top Editorial Roles

    Mallory Rubin and Sean Fennessey have been promoted to top editorial posts at The Ringer, the pop culture and sports website and podcast network. Fennessey has been named chief content officer and Rubin has been named editor in chief. Both editors have been with The Ringer since it launched in 2016. Fennessey previously served as [...]

  • RihannaFenty Beauty By Rihanna Launch, Madrid,

    Rihanna's Diamond Ball Will Honor Activist Shaun King, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley

    Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and civil rights activist Shaun King will receive this year’s Diamond Ball Award at Rihanna’s fifth annual Diamond Ball, which will also feature performances from Pharrell and DJ Khaled. “I can’t imagine a better night than this year’s Clara Lionel Foundation event with Seth Meyers, Pharrell and DJ Khaled,” said [...]

  • Rules Don't Apply

    Warren Beatty and Arnon Milchan Settle Suit Over 'Rules Don't Apply' Flop

    Arnon Milchan and Warren Beatty have settled their two-year legal battle over the disastrous release of “Rules Don’t Apply,” Beatty’s period drama about Howard Hughes. Milchan’s attorneys have filed a notice with the court dismissing his suit against Beatty. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Milchan’s company, New Regency, sued Beatty and other investors [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content