Wenner Media’s Us Weekly went on the block in late 2016, and since then there have been plenty of rumors floating around about potential buyers. Now the dust has settled and American Media Inc. will reportedly claim ownership, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The sale price is said to be $100 million.
Two likely suitors that emerged since December were AMI, who publishes newsstand competitors National Enquirer, Ok! and Star, and Tronc, a newspaper company that has spent the past year trying to reshape its identity to appear more like a digital media company.
Reports indicated that both companies came extremely close to closing a deal, but both backed out in the later stages of negotiation. There was an implicit confidence among media pundits that the Tronc deal was all but done just a week ago, but the TheStreet reported earlier today that the deal fell apart and AMI has reemerged as the serious buyer—one that is willing to pay even more for the magazine brand than the speculated $85-95 million Tronc was allegedly willing to throw down.
Folio: reached out to AMI, Wenner and Tronc for comment. While we did not hear from Tronc and Wenner, AMI provided an official release with statements from both Gus Wenner, chief digital officer at Wenner media, and David Pecker, CEO of AMI. Both of whom were interviewed by The Wall Street Journal in it’s initial reporting of the sale.
“The addition of such a strong stand-alone media brand like Us Weekly underscores AMI’s continued focus on our assertive strategy to expand our business and further establish our distinct advantages in today’s new media landscape,” say Pecker in the release.
Wenner states: “We are enormously proud of the evolution and tremendous accomplishments of Us Weekly, a brand that has continually defined celebrity news. We know that AMI will provide Us Weekly with exciting opportunities and we look forward to following their continued success.” Wenner also told The Journal that the sale will give the company more cash liquidity to pay down debts and make investments.
The Journal also reports the transaction will call for dozens of staffers being laid off, mostly at Us Weekly, as AMI will consolidate resources. Sources inside Wenner Media voiced their concerns about this to TheStreet’s Ken Doctor earlier this week, and their worries are, unfortunately, valid.