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Meredith Corp., the publisher of magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens and Fitness, is in early talks with Time Warner Inc. about buying several magazines from it, including People, InStyle and Real Simple, according to published reports.
The reports by Fortune magazine and other news outlets cited unnamed people familiar with the matter and come two weeks after the magazine unit, Time Inc., said it was cutting 6 percent of its global staff of 8,000, or about 500 people. Companies sometimes lay off workers before selling assets to make them more profitable and attractive to buyers.
Fortune is also owned by Time Inc. and said in its report that it might not be part of a sale. Time and Sports Illustrated also would be excluded under a scenario under discussion. The New York Times added that Money magazine would remain with Time Warner and said $1.75 billion was being discussed as a sales price. According to Fortune, one of the advisers involved was Chicago merchant bank BDT Capital Partners, which is run by former Goldman Sachs executive Byron Trott.
Time Warner and Meredith officials declined comment. A message left at BDT Capital was not returned.
Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes told CNBC last week that the company was considering separating Time magazines from the rest of the company but that no decision had been made.
"There's tremendous resilience in the national magazine publishing business, but advertising demand is secularly not so strong. It's down a bit," Bewkes said. "The question of whether we ought to put that into a different frame is one we've been asking."
He added that Time Warner officials "at this point have not decided to do something like that. But we will keep investigating that."