Meredith Corp today announced that it has entered into a binding agreement with Epiris Fund II to sell Time Inc. UK. Formerly owned by Time Inc., Time Inc. UK was acquired by Meredith on January 31, 2018.
Epiris today also announced the acquisition of Time Inc. UK. Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.
Time Inc. UK’s 50-plus brands reach 17 million adults and 13 million online and digital users across the UK. The portfolio spans a range of interest areas, from entertainment and women’s lifestyle to luxury, sports and technology. Amongst its titles are household names such as Woman’s Weekly, Country Life, Ideal Home and Trusted Reviews, as well as specialist titles such as Decanter, Wallpaper*, Cycling Weekly and Horse & Hound. Its entertainment titles, including What’s on TV and TV Times, sell more than a million copies each week.
FIPP president and CEO James Hewes said: “The separation of Time Inc. UK from its US parent had been much rumoured, even prior to the recent takeover by Meredith. It’s clearly great news for the UK team, giving them some certainty after years of what was clearly a strained relationship with Time Inc. As IPC, this business was the UK’s largest magazine company and Epiris clearly have one eye on returning them to those glory days. From a portfolio point of view there is much to be positive about and I expect to see a lot more multi-platform activity around their portfolio of special interest brands. This deal is just the latest in the absolute flood of M&A activity going at the moment and I understand there’s a few more surprises to come later in the year.”
Media adviser Colin Morrison added: "This is dramatic news because Time Inc. UK is (still) one of Europe's leading magazine-media groups. But it is good news because the once mighty company has been relatively unloved and unwanted by its owners for too many years. This private equity-backed deal just might signal an exciting time of seeking to modernise and maximise the potential of a company which still owns some of the UK's most famous media brands. It won't be easy or painless. There will have to be rationalisation and major change. But it could be the start of something pretty exciting." Read Colin's articles Who will buy Time Inc. UK and How Meredith upstaged Time Inc.
The media company is led by CEO and PPA chairman Marcus Rich, who joined Time Inc. UK in 2014 from DMG Media. Sir Bernard Gray, who is chairman of New Scientist and formerly non-executive director of Immediate Media and chief of Defence Materiel at the Ministry of Defence, will become executive chairman.
Alex Fortescue, managing partner of Epiris, said: “This is the second investment we have announced from Fund II following the Portals De La Rue deal, announced earlier this month. This deal is a complex corporate carve-out of the type in which we specialise. The business itself offers plentiful scope for transformation through operational improvement and M&A. We are thrilled to have got Fund II off to such a strong start.”
Chris Hanna, partner at Epiris, commented: “At its heart this is a diverse, robust and cash-generative business. We intend to bring clarity and simplicity to it, to focus on maximising the potential of its high-quality portfolio. We are excited about implementing our plans in partnership with Bernard, Marcus and the team.”
Marcus Rich, CEO of Time Inc. UK, said: “Time Inc. UK is home to some of the best known brands in the UK and we are delighted to be partnering with Epiris and with Bernard as we continue our transformation journey. They share the same vision for our business and we are excited by the fresh insight they will bring as we shape our shared plans for the business in the years ahead.”
The transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of calendar 2018.
Epiris is being advised by Jefferies International, PwC and Macfarlanes. Debt is being provided by Ares Management and HSBC. Meredith is being advised by Barou Advisers. Meredith is being advised by Barou Advisers and Herbert Smith Freehills.
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