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Meredith Laying Off 1,200, Will Explore Sale of Time, SI, Fortune and Money Brands

Six weeks after closing its deal for Time Inc., Meredith announced the layoffs of 200 employees — and said it plans to eliminate another 1,000 positions in the next 10 months.

In addition, the media and publishing company confirmed that it will explore the sale of Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, and Money brands, which are outside the wheelhouse of Meredith’s female-skewing lifestyle titles. The layoffs are part of Meredith’s plan to save $400 million to $500 million in cost synergies from the Time Inc. acquisition.

In announcing the changes, Meredith president and CEO Tom Harty said the Time, SI, Fortune, and Money brands “are attractive properties with strong consumer reach. However, they have different target audiences and advertising bases, and we believe each brand is better suited for success with a new owner.”

Harty added that the company was “pleased with the inbound interest” in the titles. Meredith said it will not comment further on the sales process until potential agreements have been reached. The company previously sold off other Time Inc. properties, including Time Inc. UK (to private-equity firm Epiris) and Golf (to banking mogul Howard Milstein).

Meredith won the bidding for Time Inc., which had been seeking a buyer, in a deal worth $1.85 billion (excluding debt). The acquisition, announced last fall, was financed in part by politically conservative brothers and multi-billionaires Charles and David Koch.

Also Wednesday, Meredith said it will reorganize its sales teams around its new portfolio of lifestyle brands. The company said it will detail the new structure and strategy during all-employee meetings beginning March 28.

Meredith’s publications include Better Homes & Gardens, Parents and Family Circle, and the company owns 17 TV stations across the U.S. The Time Inc. properties that Meredith will retain include People, Entertainment Weekly, Real Simple, InStyle, Shape and Travel + Leisure.

With respect to the former Time Inc. businesses, Meredith said its key strategic goals are to improve advertising and circulation performance of the Time Inc. properties to “industry norms”; and to grow revenue and raise profit margins on Time Inc. digital properties “to Meredith’s levels.”

Previously, Meredith announced the elimination of 600 jobs as it migrates subscription-fulfillment operations to a lower-cost provider. According to the company, those headcount reductions “do not include the impact of any potential divestitures.” Meredith also previously announced a strategy to eliminate duplicative positions and consolidate certain functions at its headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, where it said “operational costs are significantly less” than in New York City, where Time Inc. was based.

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