Following months of speculation about the future of magazine brands like Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and Prevention, Hearst announced late this afternoon that it has entered an agreement with Rodale to acquire the latter’s magazine and book publishing businesses, ending 87 years of family ownership at the Emmaus, PA-based wellness publisher.
Rodale’s six wellness brands, the others of which include Organic Life, Runner’s World, and Bicycling, will find a new home under the portfolio of Hearst Magazines, the division led by president David Carey.
Like many publishers, Rodale has struggled to make up for diminishing revenues from print advertising, and its recent history has been dotted by rounds of layoffs, high-profile executive departures, and the rethinking, scaling back, or outright shuttering of properties.
The company originally stated that it was “exploring strategic alternatives,” including potentially selling the company as a whole or selling off specific brands, back in June. Hearst was speculated to be a potential bidder from the start, alongside Meredith, Condé Nast, and American Media, Inc.
Employees learned of the sale via an email from CEO Maria Rodale at 5:20 pm Wednesday, four minutes after The Wall Street Journal published a report, and three minutes before Hearst sent out a press release announcing the acquisition.
“Maria Rodale has grown her family’s business into a peerless authority that reaches an enormous audience,” said Carey in a statement. “Hearst and Rodale are already publishing partners around the world, including the U.K., the Netherlands and Japan, and we’ve seen first-hand how the content resonates. We are pleased to add them and all of Rodale’s brands to our vibrant and varied global portfolio.”
Added Maria Rodale, “We have a long-standing respect for Hearst’s commitment to connecting consumers with imaginative, engaging content across an ever-diversifying choice of platforms, technologies and experiences around the world. We believe our exceptional brands, businesses and employees will thrive in this culture of innovation and we are confident that Hearst’s stewardship will continue to grow the passionate and purpose-driven communities that Rodale has built.”