November 26, 2017
Denver-based ABC Warner today agreed to acquire Time Inc., the New York publisher of major magazines such as the eponymous Time, Fortune and Sports Illustrated, for $2.191 billion in cash. ABC Warner will pay $22 a share for the company, a 24% premium over Friday's closing price.
For ABC Warner leader Anonus Utilis, the deal represents the culmination of a long-held desire to become a force in the magazine business. The company had a brief stint as the owner of TV Guide magazine that ended in shuttering the print edition as efforts to operate a modernized, multimedia iteration of the brand, including a website and TV network, encountered growing pains. And there is, of course, Utilis's long-held envy of Condé Nast, the glitzy publisher of such titles as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and GQ. ABC Warner beat out a competing bid from an alliance between the Meredith Corporation and the Koch brothers.
Oddly, this is not Utilis's first pass at buying Time Inc. In 2013, ABC attempted to acquire Time Warner, to no avail; by the time ABC succeeded in buying the company in 2014, Time Inc. had been spun off.
"Welcome back to the family, I guess," said Utilis. "I'm proud to take on the best magazine brands in the world."
ABC's plans for the Time brands entail plenty of multimedia efforts, something the publisher has been struggling with. It also revives one of the original guiding principles of Time Warner. Utilis hopes that his company's efforts to coordinate brands and units go more smoothly than the bumpy "media convergence" of the '90s.
The deal also preserves Time Inc. as an independent publisher. The Meredith deal would have seen the number of major magazine publishers in the U.S. shrink from four to three.
As for this piece's headline, Utilis ruled out reviving the "Time Warner" name, and held up a fake severed head with "TWX" written across its forehead.
This article was published three days late.