Time Inc. Sells Itself to Meredith Corp., Backed by Koch Brothers

The Meredith Corporation — the owner of Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens and AllRecipes — agreed to purchase Time Inc. (the publisher of once-prestigious magazine titles including Time, Sports Illustrated and People) in an all-cash transaction valued at nearly $3 billion. The deal was made possible, in part, by an infusion of $650 million from the private equity arm of Charles G. and David H. Koch, the billionaire brothers known for using their wealth and political connections to advance conservative causes. 

The deal could represent the beginning of the end for one of the country’s most celebrated magazine publishers, whose titles commanded the attention of global leaders and chronicled world events, sometimes with striking photography. It also brings together two companies that have long courted different audiences, seeking readerships that echoed the places they called home. Time Inc. is New York to its core. The company was founded by Henry R. Luce and Briton Hadden, who had worked together in their college days at the Yale Daily News. Together they hatched the idea of a fast-paced weekly that would capture an increasingly hectic and urbanized world. After the successful start of the business magazine Fortune in 1930, Luce added Life magazine to Time Inc.’s growing stable and transformed it into a wide-ranging general interest magazine that made use of glorious photography to capture movie stars, world leaders and exotic, far-flung places. In the middle of the 20th century, Time Inc. even had its own film arm, with “The March of Time” series of news shorts that played in movie theaters before the main feature.

Meredith, based in Des Moines, is a Midwestern publisher through and through. Its founder, Edwin Thomas Meredith, entered the media business in 1902 with a magazine called Successful Farming. He soon began the still-thriving Better Homes and Gardens, which has a circulation of more than 7 million. Its popular magazines have long focused on families and women, taking aim more at Middle America. It has eschewed an expensive headquarters in Manhattan and maintained a diversified portfolio — the company also owns local television stations — that has allowed Meredith to better weather the economic storm that has faced print publishers.

Time Inc. Sells Itself to Meredith Corp., Backed by Koch Brothers Meredith Agrees to Buy Time Inc. for $1.85 Billion (WSJ)