It appears some well-connected investors are quite interested in acquiring Time Inc., publisher of Sports Illustrated, Fortune, People and other big titles. However, they haven’t found much success yet. Keith J. Kelly of The New York Post reported Monday that three prominent figures involved with Warner Music Group offered a substantial premium for Time, but had their bid turned down by the Time Inc. board:
Edgar Bronfman Jr. is making a bid to buy Time Inc., publisher of People, Time and Sports Illustrated, The Post has learned.
Bronfman, who is teaming up with Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, recently submitted a bid to the board of the legendary magazine publisher to buy the company for $18 a share.
The price is a 30 percent premium over Time Inc.’s Friday closing price of $13.80 — and 34 cents over the company’s 52-week high of $17.66.
The Time Inc. board is said to have rejected the offer.
Also a part of the bidding group is Israeli businessman Ynon Kreiz, according to reliable industry sources.
The trio of executives have a long and friendly relationship. Kreiz is on the board of Warner Music Group, which is controlled by Access Industries.
In a friendly takeover, Access purchased WMG from Bronfman for $3.3 billion in May 2011.
As a further Bloomberg report notes, this comes soon after some companies inclined to activist investing like Jana Partners took stakes in Time Inc., and after significant executive reshuffling at the top of the company. Rich Battista became Time Inc. president and CEO in September, and he’s outlined ambitious plans to try and focus the company more on digital video and less on print publishing. That certainly fits with what we’ve seen at SI lately as well, as Chris Stone (who took over as SI group editorial director in June) has outlined plans for more digital, more video, and more “non-core assets.” The takeover bid from Bronfman and Blavatnik may make sense as part of a plan to continue that push, too, especially given the involvement of Kreiz, the chairman and chief executive of Maker Studios (a company focused on short-form video that Disney bought for $500 million back in 2014). We’ll see if talks of this kind of bid go any further, but it’s definitely notable that the likes of Bronfman, Blavatnik and Kreiz are looking at Time, and value it well above where its stock price was.