Time Inc. looking to sell magazines, but not Fortune

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Fortune cover

James Bandler, Doris Burke and Jennifer Reingold of Fortune are reporting Wednesday that Time Inc. is looking to sell most of its magazines but would retain ownership of Fortune, Sports Illustrated and Time.

Their article makes no mention of what would happen to personal finance publication Money.

Bandler, Burke and Reingold write, “Bewkes gave a subtle hint that he might have changed his thinking about the magazine division in a Feb. 6 interview on CNBC, the same day Time Warner posted net income up 4.6%, to $3 billion. When asked if he might follow Rupert Murdoch’s lead at News Corp., he told CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla, ‘It’s always a good question … There’s tremendous resilience in the national magazine publishing business, but advertising demand is secularly not so strong; it’s down a bit. The question whether we ought to put that into a different frame is one we’ve been asking.’ He then referred to Time Warner as ‘a great storytelling company, whether in film or TV.’ Magazines were not mentioned.

“The People magazine franchise is the top prize in the deal. It is said to be the most profitable magazine in the world. (Time Inc. does not break out financials by title.) It is not clear why Bewkes might want to keep Time magazine, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated. Time magazine is less profitable than it once was. Fortune has a money-making online joint venture with Time Warner’s CNN unit. And Sports Illustrated has clear value for Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting System, although in the past the two have disagreed on digital strategy.

“Outside advisers involved in the potential deal include the Chicago merchant bank BDT Capital Partners, run by former Goldman Sachs banker Byron D. Trott. A spokesperson for BDT declined to comment.”

Read more here.