How much are People, Time, Sports Illustrated and their corporate siblings worth?
Perhaps $1.8 billion, if you believe the recent report of a takeover offer by a group of billionaire investors.
The New York Post reported late Sunday night that Time Inc. rejected the $1.8 billion offer, but the news nevertheless caused Time Inc. ( shares to surge by more than 20%. That is a sign of relative hope for a company that was left with $1.5 billion in debt when it was spun off from Time Warner just two-and-a-half years ago, and which has yet to post overall revenue gains since. )
The bid was reportedly made by three investors: Len Blavatnik, who owns Access Industries, a holding company that includes Warner Music Group; Edgar Bronfman Jr., who owned WMG before selling it to Blavatnik in 2011; and Ynon Kreiz, an entertainment executive who sits on the WMG board, and recently sold Maker Studios to Disney.
None of those three men has any experience in the publishing sector.
Like the media industry at large, Time Inc. has been looking to reposition itself for the digital age amid declining print advertising revenue. If Blavatnik, Bronfman and Kreiz did make an offer, they likely believe they're best-suited to implement those changes, though it is not immediately clear how their experience in film and music might apply to digital publishing.
In keeping with company policy, a Time Inc. spokesperson declined to comment on what she described as "speculation."
If true, though, the bid is a sign that at least some people consider Time Inc. a good target for takeover, and a company struggling to adapt to a changing environment is likely to at least consider all suitors.