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Publisher Meredith is trying to buy Time Inc. with Koch brothers’ help, reports say

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By James F. Peltz

Los Angeles Times

(TNS)

Magazine publisher Meredith Corp. reportedly is again in talks to acquire Time Inc., this time with financial backing from the billionaire Koch brothers.

Meredith — which publishes Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens — recently approached Time about a deal, the latest in several rounds of negotiations between the firms going back the past few years, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified sources.

The companies did not comment on the reports, but the Journal said two unidentified Meredith executives denied there were any talks in progress.

Time, which owns such publications as People and Sports Illustrated, has a stock market value of $1.3 billion.

Time’s stock soared 26 percent in early trading Thursday, to $15.95 a share, in response to the reports. Meredith shot up 8 percent to $58.74 a share.

The reports said Meredith again approached Time after securing financing for a deal, including more than $500 million from Charles and David Koch. The brothers control Koch Industries, one of the nation’s largest privately held companies.

The Koch brothers also are known for supporting conservative and libertarian causes, and in 2013 they explored buying the Los Angeles Times and other Tribune Co. newspapers but eventually dropped their interest.

With their reported interest in Meredith, they apparently are taking another stab at becoming major players in the media industry.

Meanwhile, publishers such as Meredith and Time are trying to adapt to the digital age, working to replace their shrinking print advertising and circulation with ad revenue from online subscriptions, videos, e-commerce and other endeavors.

That struggle had taken its toll on Time, whose stock value dropped by more than half in the last three years before the latest merger speculation surfaced this week.

Meredith, based in Des Moines, also publishes such magazines as FamilyFun, Allrecipes and Parents. New York-based Time also publishes Time, Fortune and InStyle.

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©2017 Los Angeles Times

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Publisher Meredith is trying to buy Time Inc. with Koch brothers’ help, reports say