For months Time Inc went through the process of reviewing bids, extending the bidding process and setting deadlines for final bids only to decide not to sell. The company’s leadership instead decided to focus on executing its strategy of cutting costs and beefing up digital. That decision resulted in the company’s stock taking a beating and more than 300 jobs eliminated globally. The company has been aggressively extending brands like Real Simple, Sports Illustrated and Fortune into other areas as part of its revenue hunting effort. CEO Rich Battista is optimistic that the company can pull it together and save itself from the thing that ails it the most, the decline of print related revenue. But not many share Mr. Battista’s optimism. Wall Street for the most part remains unconvinced about the company’s strategy and billionaire Edgar Bronfman Jr who set off the whole bidding war with his unsolicited bid late last year believes the company will have a hard time trying to turn things around because it remains in the public space. However, he still believes in the power of Time Inc’s brands and believes that though the company is far behind where it should be, there is still hope.
Investors like Mr. Bronfman may end up getting another shot at Time Inc thanks to last week announcement that Rodale Inc is putting itself on the block. So what does Rodale putting itself on the block has to do with Time Inc? Well, a successful sale of Rodale could spark shareholder pressure for Time Inc’s leadership and board to pursue a sale again, especially if Rodale which had sales of $350 million in 2015 lands a sweet offer. Following the 300 jobs it eliminated or is in the process of eliminating, Time Inc is also looking to sell off non-core brands and business units to help it achieve $100 million in savings which it would probably re-invest in its digital efforts and greasing the palms of its shareholders. But if the Rodale deal inspires a possible suitor to come forward with a generous offer there is no way Time Inc can ignore it. In fact there are still individuals circling the company like American Media Inc CEO David Pecker who is said to be thinking up a master plan to get his hands on the company. Some reports have surfaced downplaying Mr. Pecker’s ability to buy the company but we wouldn’t write him off so quickly. The long and the short is this. Time Inc may be off the block, but its not off the block. If David Pecker still sees an opening then so does Meredith and yes maybe even Edgar Bronfman Jr. who seems to have a deep appreciation for Time Inc’s world class brands.
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