Time Warner Reportedly in Talks to Sell Time Inc.
Could Time Warner, which a few years ago finally shed the “AOL” from its name, soon be known simply as “Warner”?
That surprising scenario became a possibility Wednesday with a report in the company’s own Fortune magazine that the media giant is in talks to sell most of its Time Inc. publishing portfolio. One iteration, the magazine noted, would involve Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune staying in the corporate fold as the last links to a waning media era.
Fortune’s account cited several unnamed sources, adding the caveat that a potential deal “is still in a formative stage and may never come to fruition.”
A Time Warner spokesperson said the company “never comments on speculations.”
After a bumpy start to the decade, recent times have been good for a refocused, content-oriented Time Warner. In recent weeks, it has reported strong quarterly earnings, seen its stock hit new highs and anointed a new CEO of Warner Bros., Kevin Tsujihara.
While Bewkes has thrown public bones to Time Inc. as of late, the company’s revenue made up only 12% of the company’s total in 2012. Like print rivals, it has faced an ongoing struggle to shore up advertising revenue and convert print audiences to online impressions.
It wasn’t immediately clear, despite the legacy value of the Time, Fortune and S.I. brands, why those three titles would potentially remain in the mix. Notably absent from that lifeboat are consumer entertainment brands People - in many recent years the company’s big earner and beacon of hope - and Entertainment Weekly.
Time Inc., founded in 1922, rose to an elite position in U.S. print media in the post-World War II years, erecting the modernist classic Time-Life skyscraper along New York’s Avenue of the Americas and dominating the public discourse around politics, finance and culture. By the end of the 20th century, shrinkage in print and fierce online competition had eroded its position. The unit currently operates 21 magazines and 25 websites.
Wall Street didn’t have a strong immediate reaction to the news, with Time Warner shares staying flat at $52.53 a share in average trading volume.