Time Inc, which owns Sports Illustrated, People magazine and Time and other titles, has rejected an unsolicited takeover offer. But it is clear that if the proposed buyers want the company, all they have to do is to sweeten the price a little.

US media reports overnight said Time Inc (which is the biggest magazine publisher in the US) had rejected an offer from a group including Edgar Bronfman Jr, the former Seagram’s heir who previously engineered a takeover of Warner Music Group. Bronfman’s private equity firm Accretive LLC made the offer at the weekend with support from several other high-powered investors, including Leonard Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-born American businessman (and current owner of Warner Music), and Ynon Kreiz, the Israeli businessmen who helped build and then sell Maker Studios to Disney for over US$500 million in 2014.

The bid price was US$18 a share — a premium of 30% over the company’s closing share price of US$13.83 last Friday, before news of the offer emerged on Monday. Time shares closed at US$16 this morning in New York, up more than 17%. The US$18 a share offer values Time at a touch under US$1.78 billion and analysts say an extra US$300 million in total would win the deal. Since being spun off from Time Warner back in mid 2014, Time Inc shares have fallen 50% and there is a growing reluctance to hold shares in a big company in a dying industry (there is a similar feeling among investors about shares in the New York Times Co, News Corp and Gannett.

Earlier this month, Gannett, the country’s biggest newspaper publisher, dropped of its proposed near-US$1 billion offer to buy Tronc, formerly Tribune Publishing, after lenders reportedly got cold feet over the high price Gannett was offering. — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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