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NME publisher Time Inc UK sold to private equity in £130 million deal

By | Published on Tuesday 27 February 2018

Time Inc

Private equity company Epiris yesterday announced a deal to buy NME publisher Time Inc UK in a transaction reported to be worth £130 million. The acquisition of Time Inc’s UK business comes hot on the heels of a deal in the US in which the Meredith Corporation is buying the parent company. Presumably US-centric Meredith wasn’t so excited about the British magazines that came to it under its big Time Inc deal.

One of the main magazine publishers in the UK, the British wing of Time Inc publishes music titles NME and Uncut. Other magazines in its eclectic portfolio include Wallpaper, What’s On TV, TV Times, Soaplife, InStyle UK, Look and Marie Claire.

According to The Guardian, it is thought that new owner Epiris will likely review all the magazines currently published by Time Inc UK and could seek to offload underperforming titles. Meanwhile, it may well seek to acquire additional magazines from other publishers – a possible bid for independent media firm Dennis Publishing is rumoured – while also seeking economies across the business that could result in some downsizing of the workforce.

These assumptions are partly based on remarks by Epiris partner Chris Hanna, who said of Time Inc UK: “At its heart this is a diverse, robust and cash-generative business. We intend to bring clarity and simplicity to it, to focus on maximising the potential of its high-quality portfolio”.

Confirmation of the Time Inc UK deal coincided with the news that NME Editor Mike Williams has decided to step down from the role with immediate effect. He says that after more than five years in the job he felt it was time to move on. Williams has edited the title since 2012, overseeing the music weekly during its big shift from being a paid for music-focused magazine to a free title with a wider entertainment remit.

Elsewhere in media deals news, it’s emerged this morning that US broadcasting giant Comcast is bidding to buy the Sky TV business in Europe. In doing so it is attempting to gazump a bid by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, which already owns nearly 40% of the publicly listed Sky plc, and which has been trying to secure complete ownership of the satellite telly company for some time.

The idea of the Murdoch-led Fox having complete ownership of Sky plc – and its Sky News channel – has proven controversial in the UK, of course, what with the also Murdoch-led News Corp already owning The Times, The Sun and various British radio stations. And with Murdoch being Murdoch. And with all that phone hacking business. And with all of that “we never did any phone hacking, except, oh, actually we did” business.

21st Century Fox’s bid to buy Sky has been slightly complicated by Disney’s move to acquire 21st Century Fox, which would see Murdoch become a minority shareholder in the combined entertainment powerhouse. So, hurrah for the rival bid from Comcast complicating things even further.