Time Inc in talks to buy IPC
LONDON - Time Inc, the publishing division of AOL Time Warner, has been in negotiations to buy IPC, one of the UK's largest consumer magazine publishers.
The outcome of the talks is not yet clear and reports suggest that the negotiations with Time stumbled over the value of the business, which is said to range between £850m and £1.1bn. IPC is expected to consider offers from other parties.
AOL is understood to have pulled out of bidding in the US for Emap's troubled American division in order to concentrate on IPC.
The news comes less than two weeks after IPC chief executive Sly Bailey confirmed that its majority shareholder, venture capitalist Cinven, is moving ahead with plans to dispose of the business either through a sale or a flotation within 12 to 18 months.
The move follows a series of acquisitions by the publisher of Time and Sports Illustrated. These include Times Mirror Magazines last year for $475m (£344.8m) and last week's purchase of Future Network's digital economy magazine Business 2.0 for an initial consideration of $68m (£49.3m) and undisclosed additional payments based on the title's future performance.
Time Inc is believed to have turned to acquisitions rather than launches in response to steep growth targets it has been set since its parent, Time Warner, merged with AOL.
Cinven acquired its 56% stake in IPC in 1998 when it backed a management buyout from former owner Reed Elsevier, the Anglo-Dutch publisher.
Cinven initially set a timescale of between three and five years in which to dispose of the publisher. However, the weakened advertising market is expected to bring the sale or IPO forward.
IPC, which publishes Marie Claire and Loaded and recently posted interim pre-tax profits of £3.8m on turnover of £182.4m, refused to comment on the news.
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