Barry Diller’s IAC to acquire magazine publisher Meredith

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The roughly $2.7 billion deal will combine brands like People, Better Homes & Gardens and Investopedia

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Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp. It has struck a nearly $2.7 billion deal to buy magazine publisher Meredith Corp., a bet on the online publication that would combine brands such as People, Better Homes & Gardens and Investopedia.

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As a result of the deal, Des Moines-based Meredith will become part of IAC’s digital-publishing division, Dotdash, the companies said Wednesday. The company will be called DotDash Meredith and will be operated by DotDash chief executive Neil Vogel, he said. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

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The $42.18-a-share acquisition of Meredith, which previously agreed to sell its local-TV business to Gray Television Inc., will add a range of lifestyle publications such as Real Simple, Allrecipes and InStyle to DotDash’s existing portfolio, including Brides, Serious included. Eats and TripSavvy.

Barry Diller’s IAC in talks to buy magazine publisher Meredith

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“They are completely aligned,” IAC President Diller said of IAC and Meredith’s assets in an interview. “Will help each other.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that the companies were in advanced talks last month.

“You won’t find such a premium portfolio of media assets under one roof anywhere else,” Meredith Chairman and CEO Tom Harty said in a statement. “We are thrilled to join forces to accelerate Meredith’s digital future.”

The deal will also boost IAC’s portfolio of websites, which has shrunk recently after the company spun off online dating behemoth Match Group Inc. and video-hosting and sharing platform Vimeo Inc.

During the Meredith acquisition announcement Wednesday evening, IAC CEO Joy Levine said that while the deal is large, IAC still has plenty of cash for other potential deals.

Acquiring online companies and subsequently liquidating them has long been part of the New York-based IAC’s playbook. The company, which began as a hybrid media/electronic-retailing business that included a home shopping network, emerged in the early 2000s as a formidable buyer of Internet companies, many of which eventually closed and now publicly traded. Beyond Match and Vimeo, businesses once under IAC’s umbrella include Expedia Group Inc., Ticketmaster and LendingTree Inc.

Digital publisher DotDash, which will be home to Meredith properties, currently reaches nearly 100 million online consumers monthly through 14 media brands across health, finance and lifestyle, IAC said. The combined company, which will include Meredith’s more than 40 brands, will reach more than 175 million online consumers monthly, the companies said.

“Meredith is the largest magazine media company in the world and has strong roots in print,” Sameer Husni, a leading magazine consultant, said in an interview. “Will IAC have the same focus on print that was put in by the current Meredith team, or will they put more emphasis on data and digital detail? Meredith has a very good database; it will be put to better use with the digital power of IAC. “

Vogel said in the conference call to discuss the proposed deal that print will continue to be part of the mix going forward, investing in top-performing titles and focusing on profitability.

The decision to sell marks an abrupt turnaround for Meredith, who a few years ago bet on the future of the magazine business when it agreed to buy Time Inc. for $1.85 billion.

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Meredith later sold high-profile Time Inc titles to major brands such as Time magazine, Fortune and Sports Illustrated. This has led to other Time Inc. The publications focused on leveraging brands, which he felt had the potential to bring in more money. It also spawned several new magazines in recent years, including Magnolia Journal, a lifestyle publication launched in 2016 with home-renovation celebrities Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Despite those moves, Meredith has struggled with significant debt as newsstand and print-advertising revenues faced serious challenges, a situation worsened by the pandemic.


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