Time Inc. plans to put the Parenting Group and most of its Time4 Media magazines up for sale today -- kicking off much-anticipated but previously uncertain asset dispositions by the country's biggest magazine publisher.
Staffers are expected to learn today that a number of Time4 titles will be sold. The division includes titles such as Ski, Skiing, Field & Stream, Popular Science, the Transworld titles, Outdoor Life, Motorboating and Yachting. Time Inc. is unlikely to part with Golf Magazine or the iconic and handsomely multiplatform This Old House. The Parenting Group includes Parenting and BabyTalk magazines.
Time Inc. operates under heavy pressure to improve revenue and results year after year to please parent Time Warner, which singled out the division as a disappointment in the conglomerate's most recent financial report. Those demands led to nearly 500 Time Inc. layoffs in the last year and contributed to this summer's shutdown of Teen People's print edition and its 6-month-old web-only Office Pirates.
But speculation has persisted that some of the smaller properties in Time Inc.'s enormous portfolio might be jettisoned so resources can flow to the publisher's bigger bets.
The Time4 division is the descendent of Times Mirror Magazines, a group of leisure and special-interest titles that Time Inc. bought from the Tribune Co. for $475 million in December 2000. "These are the kind of titles that will do well down the road but maybe not at a big company," one outsider said.
Editor's Note: After this report was posted this morning, Time Inc. released a memo to employees this afternoon from CEO Ann Moore. Here is the memo explaining the sales plans.
September 12, 2006
To: Time Inc. Employees
From: Ann Moore
Re: Today's Announcement
As you may have heard, we announced plans earlier today to sell some of our smaller niche brands that we feel no longer fit with our strategy for Time Inc.'s future.
While these titles are good performers, Time Inc. is focusing its energy, resources and investment on our largest and most profitable brands, brands that have demonstrated an ability to draw large audiences in print and digital form. Our recent acquisition of Golf.com and greater investment in CNNMoney.com, SI.com, People.com, Time.com, InStyle.com and Time Inc. Interactive are evidence of this focused strategy. Time Inc.'s unparalleled skills in creating, editing and packaging compelling content can translate successfully to all distribution channels. With our category leading brands in news, sports, finance, celebrity, health, fashion and home, we're well positioned for growth in multiple platforms.
Time4 Media businesses for sale include:
Marine Group (Yachting, MotorBoating and SaltWater Sportsman)
Time4 Outdoors (Field & Stream, Outdoor Life)
TransWorld Media (TW Skateboarding, TW Snowboarding, TW Surf, TW Motocross, Ride BMX, Quad)
Mountain Sports Media (Ski, Skiing, Warren Miller Entertainment)
Golf, Golf.com, and This Old House Ventures, including This Old House television production and This Old House magazine, will be staying at Time Inc.
The Parenting Group is also for sale. These assets include:
In all there are 18 print titles for sale. 440 employees work at the Time4 Media titles involved and another 120 work at The Parenting Group.
I want to thank our colleagues at these magazines for all their hard work over the years. They serve their audiences well, and we will continue to work closely with them until the sale is final. This was not an easy decision. These are all vibrant and valuable brands. Over the past few months, I have worked closely with Jeff Bewkes and Time Warner to refine our strategy, and we concluded that the criteria for inclusion in the Time Inc. portfolio has changed.
We will be concentrating on our biggest brands in print. By focusing our management attention and financial resources on these world famous brands, I believe we best position Time Inc. for growth. I am confident that the biggest brands in print, with our expertise and support, will develop into the biggest brands online. This strategy is already bearing fruit: SI.com and CNNMoney.com, for example will contribute significant amounts to the bottom line of their respective titles in 2006.
Golf and Golf.com will join the Sports Illustrated group. The publishing side of Golf will report to SI president Mark Ford. Golf's top editor will report to SI managing editor Terry McDonell. The move to Sports Illustrated is significant as it combines the number one general sports title with one of the leading golf titles and brings together two category leading web sites with a total of 9,000,000 unique visitors a month.
This Old House will report to Time Inc. Co-COO John Squires on the business side and the editorial side will continue to report to Scott Mowbray. Time4 Media's newly formed TV development arm, under Paul Speaker, will remain part of Time Inc. They will continue to produce This Old House, the award winning PBS television show as well as various other Time Inc. television projects.
Time4 Media President Tom Beusse has agreed to stay on and manage the remaining Time4 Media businesses during the sale period.
With these divestments, Time Inc. will have 132 magazines around the world and 32 in the U.S. Our PIB share will be approximately 20%. Time Inc. web sites receive more than 1.5 billion page views each month.
I will keep you aware of developments as they occur. In the meantime I appreciate all the work you are doing in helping position Time Inc. for growth by making sure our world class journalism and brands dominate their categories online as well as in print.