NEW YORK — Magazine and broadcasting company Meredith is buying magazine publisher Time for about $1.8 billion, with help from the billionaire Koch brothers, to bulk up on readers as the publishing industry navigates the difficult transition to digital from print.
Iowa-based Meredith Corp. owns 17 TV stations that reach 12 million U.S. households. Its women- and lifestyle-focused magazines and websites include Better Homes & Gardens, Family Circle and Allrecipes. Time Inc., based in New York, has publications including Time, Sports Illustrated, People, Fortune and Entertainment Weekly.
Including Time’s debt, Meredith values the deal at $2.8 billion.
To get the deal done, Meredith got $650 million in financial backing from the private equity arm of Koch Industries, the energy conglomerate of the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, known for their advocacy for conservative causes. The Koch investment has raised eyebrows in media circles. The company said that the Koch brothers would not influence editorial operations, however. Meredith CEO Steve Lacy said on a call Monday morning that the company had not wanted an investor who would want to help run the business, so it went with Koch for financial aid because of their desire to be “passive” investors and because they didn’t require a board seat.
A Koch representative did not answer questions about why the company was interested in media but said Monday said that the investing arm, Koch Equity Development, was making a “passive financial investment” that doesn’t include board or management representation.