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Meredith Corporation announces sale of Sports Illustrated to ABG for $110 million

Authentic Brands Group (ABG), a global brand development, marketing and entertainment company, today announced that it has finalised the purchase of the intellectual property of Sports Illustrated from Meredith Corporation. This acquisition adds a new vertical to ABG's growing platform and portfolio, which currently generates over US$9.3 billion in global retail sales annually.

 

Sports Illustrated ()

 

"We are honoured to welcome Sports Illustrated to the ABG family," said Jamie Salter, founder, chairman and CEO of ABG. "As one of the most iconic brands in sports media, SI is a cultural centerpiece with massive opportunities for growth across its burgeoning digital, TV and social platforms and industry-leading print magazine. SI's trusted name and fiercely devoted following set the stage for the brand to become a leader in lifestyle and entertainment."

Through this acquisition, ABG forges a strategic partnership with diversified media powerhouse Meredith to build a global platform that converges the worlds of sports, culture and entertainment. ABG assumes the marketing, business development and licensing functions for the Sports Illustrated intellectual property and brand, while the print magazine and SI.com will maintain editorial independence and continue to operate under the leadership of Meredith and editor-in-chief Chris Stone and Publisher Danny Lee.

"We are delighted to find a great home for Sports Illustrated with ABG, one of the world's premier brand owners and licensors," said Jon Werther, president, Meredith National Media Group. "Additionally, we are excited about the opportunity to fully integrate Sports Illustrated's print and digital products into Meredith's operations. We believe our proven expertise in content creation and sales and marketing will greatly enhance the vitality and profitability of these channels."

"Sports have a remarkable way of bringing people together - regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic status, the experiences shared by sports fans around the world are unifying and indelible," said Nick Woodhouse, president and CMO of ABG. "As a trailblazer and cultural phenomenon, Sports Illustrated has created moments and experiences for its readers that are unmatched by any other sports brand. We look forward to working with Meredith to extend Sports Illustrated's legacy and connect the brand with new audiences around the world."

"We're thrilled that Authentic Brands Group and Meredith share the vision of SI management to build a premium sports platform," said Chris Stone, editor-in-chief of Sports Illustrated. "In addition to continuing to produce independent, award-winning journalism and storytelling—whatJamie Salter has described as the heart of SI—we are now perfectly positioned, with the support and resources of ABG, to thrive in many other spaces: events and conferences, licensing, gambling and gaming, IP development, especially in video and TV, to name a few, all while continuing to benefit from Meredith's industry-leading track record in operating media companies."

"This strategic partnership brings a new approach to media brand development, and we're excited to leverage Meredith and ABG's respective strengths to enhance and build upon Sports Illustrated's undeniable value," added John Zieser, chief development officer of Meredith. "We will also combine our world-class media platform and consumer audience with ABG's brand development, marketing and licensing expertise to develop other media-driven opportunities across the company's portfolio."

Transaction Details:

- ABG has acquired the intellectual property of Sports Illustrated from Meredith for $110 million.

- The purchase includes SI's associated brands including Sports Illustrated™, Sports Illustrated Kids™, Sportsperson of the Year, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, SI™ and SI TV.

- The transaction does not include the FanSided digital platform, which Meredith is currently in the process of selling.

- ABG also acquires the rights to over two million images as part of Sports Illustrated's archive of owned photography.

- ABG assumes the marketing, business development and licensing functions for the Sports Illustrated intellectual property and brands.

- Meredith will pay ABG a licensing fee to operate the Sports Illustrated print magazine and SI.com for a minimum of two years.

Meredith acquired Sports Illustrated as part of its purchase of Time Inc. on January 31, 2018. Shortly thereafter, Meredith announced it was selling certain Time Inc. news and sports brands. In its Fiscal 2019, Meredith has generated approximately $450 million of proceeds from the sale of the Time, Fortune and Sports Illustrated brands. This figure is in addition to the nearly $300 million Meredith generated from the sale of Time Inc. assets in its Fiscal 2018.

Meredith is using the transaction proceeds to pay down debt. With the sale of Sports Illustrated, Meredith will have paid approximately $900 million of debt by June 30, 2019. Meredith intends to pay another $100 million in debt in the first quarter of its fiscal 2020 (ending September 30, 2019) after completing the sale of FanSided and Viant to reach its stated goal of $1 billion of debt pay down.

Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP served as legal advisor to Authentic Brands Group in the transaction. Houlihan Lokey served as financial advisor and Cooley LLP served as legal advisor to Meredith in the transaction. 

 

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