Backpacker Sale Officially Announced
El Segundo, California-based consumer enthusiast publisher Active Interest Media announced its acquisition of Rodale’s Backpacker today. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but a Rodale spokesperson says earlier reports of a sale price of $14 million are accurate.
The spokesperson says the entire Backpacker group was purchased, meaning no staff will be cut as a result of the deal. However, the magazine, primarily editorial, is moving to offices in Boulder within the next 90 days and editor-in-chief Jon Dorn is so far the only one named to commit to the move. "Everyone’s expected to stay, but it does involve a move. It’s a personal choice," says the spokesperson.
The sale,which unfolded over a 6-week period starting in April, is not being characterized as a corrective move on Rodale’s part, but rather one to create funds to invest in other initiatives and focus on core health and fitness products such as the Men’s and Women’s Health magazines, books and digital projects. In his internal memo to employees and in the sale’s official statement, Rodale president and CEO Steve Murphy says, "The sale of Backpacker will allow us to focus our resources on long term growth and further our strategy in online, international, and books and strengthen the position of our key brands;Men’s Health, Prevention, Runner’s World, Women’s Health, Best Life, Bicycling, Organic Gardening, and Running Times;in the health, fitness and wellness space."
Backpacker has been a consistently strong performer in Rodale’s portfolio. Aside from being a regular award winner, the magazine had a first-quarter increase of 8 percent in PIB revenue, securing 21 new endemic and non-endemic advertisers. And Rodale overall has grown first-quarter revenue 5.6 percent over same period last year to $135.2 million.
Active Interest Media is led by CEO Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist, a former Times Mirror Magazines CEO, and backed by private equity firm Wind Point Partners, which committed $150 million when AIM formed in 2002. Other titles include Yoga Journal, Black Belt, Log Home Living and Vegetarian Times.
Zimbalist says that Allen & Co., which was retained by Rodale to handle the sale, approached him as one of a few potential buyers."It was a limited auction. Allen & Co. approached a few people that they agreed on with Rodale."
Zimbalist characterizes the magazine’s fit into his platform this way: "This is the quintessential and one of the best special interest publishing operations and it fits in beautifully with our healthy living group. It compliments Yoga Journal which is primarily female and [Backpacker] is primarily male."