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Reports: Reader’s Digest, Wenner Media Up For Sale

RDA seeking $1 billion; Wenner denies it's in negotiations.



Matt Kinsman By Matt Kinsman
07/18/2011

Reader's Digest Association is on the block, seeking a price of around $1 billion, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal, which says the company may sell off piece by piece rather than as a whole.

RDA emerged from bankruptcy in February 2010. In April 2011, RDA CFO Tom Williams replaced Mary Berner as president and CEO. RDA's first quarter 2011 financials took a beating from fewer magazine issues and declining sales of its An Circle Pro ancillary, with revenue down 21.2 percent to $326 million.

Revenue for the Reader's Digest Community--which includes Reader's Digest, Reader's Digest Best You, RD Large Print and RD Select Editions--dropped 7 percent from $44.1 million to $40.8 million; the RDA Lifestyles Communities - a group of 10 titles including Every Day With Rachael Ray and Taste of Home - also experienced a fall, down 18 percent to $73.6 million. However, the Weekly Reader segment was up 83 percent to $5.5 million in the first quarter of 2011.

However, ad pages for Reader's Digest are up 7.9 percent and ad pages in Family Handyman are up 11 percent through August, according to FOLIO: sister site minonline. However, ad pages in traditional powerhouse Everyday with Rachel Ray slipped 16.7 percent, per min.   

Meanwhile, another report from Crain's New York Business says Wenner Media--publisher of Us Weekly, Men's Journal and Rolling Stone--is on the block as well and has been talking to a major publisher about an acquisition of the three magazines for the last three months.

A Wenner spokesperson denied the report. Rumours of Wenner Media going on the block have swirled for years (dating back to Jann and Jane Wenner's split back in 1996).

Wenner titles are booming this year, according to min. Ad pages in Men's Journal are up 4.9 percent through the first half of the year while Us Weekly is up 18.2 percent and Rolling Stone is up 15.3 percent. 

2011 is shaping up to be the year of the consumer magazine deal. There were 16 transactions involving consumer magazines in the first half of the year (up 33 percent), while deal value totaled $2 billion according to JEGI, thanks in large part to Hearst's acquisition Lagardere's magazine porfolio. American Media came out of bankruptcy last year with $50 million in cash and a self-proclaimed itch to buy, snapping up OK! Magazine in June for approximately $25 million.  

Matt Kinsman By Matt Kinsman
07/18/2011







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