Those responsible for Meredith Corp. do not comment on a report that the company is negotiating its sale to a New York media conglomerate.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday evening that Meredith executives were in “advanced talks” to sell the company to media mogul Barry Diller IAC / InterActiveCorp. Citing anonymous sources, the Journal reported that the companies “may close a deal in the coming days.”
After remaining silent since the initial report, company spokeswoman Kara Kelly declined to speak on the story Monday afternoon, telling the Des Moines Register: “We are not commenting on the rumors.”
Publisher of several national lifestyle magazines, including Better Homes and Gardens, People and Real Simple, Meredith has approximately 800 employees. in Des Moines. The company has closed large, high-priced deals in recent years, including the $ 3.2 billion purchase of Time Inc. in 2018.
Earlier this year, Meredith struck a deal to sell its 17 local TV channels in several major US cities to Atlanta-based Gray Television for $ 2.8 billion.
The company has also focused on shifting its advertising from a print subscription model to a digital advertising model that competes with Facebook and Google. This year marked the first time that the company’s digital ad revenue has exceeded print ad revenue.
Meredith’s stock opened at $ 56.19 per share on Monday morning, a 25% increase from what it was before the Journal report.
Meredith made her debut in 1902, when Edwin Thomas Meredith started Successful Farming magazine. He started publishing Better Homes and Gardens in the 1920s and went public in 1946.
The founder’s great-granddaughter, Mell Meredith Frazier, is a member of the company’s board of directors.
Meredith executives and shareholders nearly sold the company six years ago, when they struck a $ 2.4 billion deal with the owner of a Virginia-based newspaper and television station. , Media General. That deal collapsed four months later, when national television station Nexstar Broadcasting bought Media General for $ 4.6 billion.
Media General, in turn, agreed to pay Meredith $ 60 million to withdraw from the sale agreement.
About reported bidder: IAC and Barry Diller
IAC’s roots go back to 1986, when the owners of Home Shopping Network started the business as Silver King Broadcasting Co. In two years, the company bought 11 local TV stations for $ 220 million. , attracting viewers to shopping shows.
Diller, the former CEO of Paramount Pictures who then started Fox Broadcasting Co., announced his purchase of the company in 1995. He diversified IAC away from home shopping, with the company buying the USA Network and Syfy channels from Universal. Studios.
IAC began to branch out into the internet business in the late 90s, buying up companies such as LendingTree and a suite of travel websites that became Expedia.
Over the past two years, IAC has created a few important divisions, including the video platform Vimeo and the dating company Match Group, which owns Tinder, OKCupid and Match.com. IAC’s media holdings include The Daily Beast, Serious Eats, Brides and Investopedia.
Diller and his family control about 41% of the voting shares of IAC, according to the company’s most recent annual report. He did not return an email from Des Moines Registry asking for comment last week, and a company spokesperson said IAC “does not comment on rumors or speculation.”
Other reported suitor: Jahm Najafi
According to the Journal, private equity firm The Najafi Cos. Phoenix-based is also in talks with Meredith about a deal. The company is headed by Jahm Najafi, a former Solomon Brothers banker and commercial real estate investor.
Najafi started his own business in 2002. He has invested in a diverse group of companies ranging from the Snowflake Power biofuel plant to home builder Trend Homes.
He is also an actor in the world of sports, as a part owner and vice-president of the Phoenix Suns. He teamed up with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick earlier this year to start a specialty acquisition company.
Najafi has flirted with running media companies in the past. He tried to buy out bankrupt Borders bookstore chain in 2011, a deal that collapsed when creditors objected. He bid unsuccessfully for the Boston Globe two years later.
Najafi also has a roundabout link with Meredith. He tried to buy Time Inc. in 2017, but Meredith ultimately outbid him.
When the registry emailed Najafi about Meredith last week, a spokesperson responded by email that Jahm was unavailable for comment.