Time Inc. To Be Acquired By Meredith Corp. In Deal Backed By Koch Brothers

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Time Inc., the publisher of the magazines Time, People and Sports Illustrated, will sell itself to the Meredith Corporation in a deal worth $2.8 billion, the companies said on Sunday. Meredith will pay $18.50 a share for the legacy media giant.

The sale, which will close in the beginning of next year, was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies.

The deal is backed by $650 million in financing from Koch Equity Development, the private equity group owned by billionaire brothers and conservative mega-donors Charles and David Koch.

It’s unclear why the Koch brothers have backed the acquisition, the third time Meredith has attempted to buy Time Inc. Prior negotiations collapsed in 2013 after the companies failed to decide which magazines Meredith would buy. And earlier this year, Time Inc. said it didn’t want to sell itself.

But, as both The New York Times and Recode note, the Koch brothers are known for using their vast resources to advance conservative causes through political donations. The Kochs have never owned a media company before and it’s also unclear if they would wield any influence over either Meredith or Time Inc. under the terms of the deal. 

Meredith said in a news release the Koch brothers’ investment group “will have no influence on Meredith’s editorial or managerial operations” and said its “non-controlling” cash injection “underscores a strong belief in Meredith’s strength as a business operator.”

Des Moines-based Meredith owns several popular magazines already, including Better Homes & Gardens, Shape and Parents, and says it reaches up to 110 million women a month through its various platforms. Its acquisition of Time Inc. reflects a broader shrinking of the media genre as magazine titans move to sell themselves to larger companies amid dramatically shrinking advertising revenues and subscriber bases.

Co-founder and publisher Jann Wenner announced his intention to sell his magazine Rolling Stone in September. Meanwhile, the mass media company Hearst said it would purchase Rodale Inc., the publisher of Men’s Health and Runner’s World, in October.

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