According to a number of media reports, the billionaire Koch brothers, among the nation’s leading conservatives, may financially support a buyout of storied publisher Time Inc. (NYSE: TIME) by magazine and television owner Meredith Corp. (NYSE: MDP). Time was founded by Henry Luce and Briton Hadden in 1923.
Meredith and Time have had off again and on again talks about a merger since Time was spun out of Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) in 2014. Analysts assume that the combination of the two publishers would allow them to cut redundant costs.
Along with Time magazine, Time’s largest media brands are Sports Illustrated, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, Fortune, People, InStyle, Life, Golf Magazine, Southern Living, Essence, Real Simple and Entertainment Weekly. Several of the brands are leaders in their media categories, and this is particularly true with People. Time says it has over 100 brands and its online properties reach 150 million or more digital readers.
When reporting its most recent quarter, Time President and CEO Rich Battista said that the company had improved its performance based on one of its own critical measurements:
We delivered strong operating and financial metrics in the third quarter despite the challenging print environment. Our Adjusted OIBDA of $115 million grew 15% and we continued to execute on our disciplined cost plan and grow our non-Magazines revenue. We expect revenue derived from Digital and Brand Extensions & Other sources to reach approximately $1 billion in 2017. In addition, our Free cash flow grew 18% to $73 million, our best quarterly result for this metric since 2014.”
The company’s stock has risen 15% in the past five days to $12.65, perhaps because of rumors of a deal.