Time Inc. is in the news this morning, having sealed a deal last night to sell itself to Meredith. Time publishes People, Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Southern Living, Real Simple, Cooking Light, InStyle, Travel + Leisure, and more; Meredith publishes Better Homes and Garden, Family Circle, Martha Stewart Living, and Allrecipes, among others. Time is based in New York, and caters to somewhat more affluent audiences; Meredith is based in Des Moines and specializes in reaching Middle American women.
Early reports made much—probably too much—of the involvement of the Koch brothers private equity fund in financing the deal. The announcement yesterday made clear that the Kochs will be passive investors, and will not have a say in the management of the combined company or have a seat on the combined company’s board.
The merger reflects tough times in the media business, taking a toll on both companies, but particularly on Time Inc. The merger will allow for sizable cost saving synergies between the two. It also reflects the need for scale in digital media, where publishers have had to fight the giants—Facebook and Google—for advertising dollars.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter. Meredith hasn’t said what it plans to do with all of Time Inc.’s publications, but we are assuming the new owners will be quick to recognize the unmatched value of CEO Daily.
More news below, including one about a match which may garner even more attention than that of Meredith and Time.
• Soldier to Marry Actress
His Royal Highness Price Harry of Wales is to marry Ms. Meghan Markle of Los Angeles sometime in the spring of 2018. Markle is the first American, the first actress and the first person of color to marry into the U.K. royal family but not, despite the breathless exuberance of some correspondents, the first divorcee (Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of Henry II, takes that honor). In contrast to Wallis Simpson, she’ll also get the title Her Royal Highness and have Duchess of Sussex thrown in for good luck. The British appear to be taking it well enough, their chief question, as per Google, being “Will we get the day off work?” People
• Black Friday Records Fall, At Least Online
Black Friday appears to have broken previous records for sales volumes, although you can pick and choose whose data you want to believe as regards the margin. Salesforce’s retail intelligence said online sales volumes grew 24% from last year, while Adobe put it at 18% for a two-day period also including Thanksgiving. Visits to brick and mortar stores fell 1.6% for those two days, according to Shoppertrak. More records are expected to fall today, Cyber Monday. Fortune
• CFPB Tussle Winds up in Court
Leandra English, who was deputy to Richard Cordray at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has sued to stop President Donald Trump installing White House budget director Mick Mulvaney as acting chief. Trump had appointed Mulvaney after Cordray accelerated his departure from the bureau and tried to name English as his acting successor. Trump has vowed a thorough makeover of an agency that he sees as a needless constraint on the financial sector, but which Democrats see as a bulwark for ordinary people against abusive banking practices. Fortune
• 2018 Could Be Another Good Year for the Shale Patch
OPEC and Russia are reportedly close to agreeing another extension to the deal under which nearly 2 million barrels a day of oil output are held back from world markets. Crude futures hit a two-and-a-half year high over the weekend on the prospect. OPEC is due to meet with Russia and other major oil exporters later this week to cement the agreement. The biggest risk to an extension deal appears to be the fear that higher prices will simply cede more market share to U.S. shale producers. Elsewhere, OPEC member Venezuela put its generals in charge of the state oil company PdVSA. FT, metered access
Around the Water Cooler
• Exit Baer CEO…Pursued by Clients?
Drama in the staid world of Swiss private banking: Boris Collardi resigned suddenly as CEO of Julius Baer Group to take a partnership at rival Pictet Group, causing Baer shares to fall 5% in early trading. Collardi turned Baer into the world’s largest listed standalone wealth management group. He’ll be succeeded by deputy CEO Bernhard Hodler. Bloomberg
• Merkel Fails Where Markle Succeeds
Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats made overtures to the center-left Social Democratic Party to renew their “Grand Coalition,” after talks to build a three-party government with the Greens and pro-business FDP collapsed. The SPD is likely to demand the Finance Ministry and correspondingly greater clout over fiscal and economic policy than it had in the last four years, which would suggest slower tax cuts, a more hawkish policy towards Silicon Valley, and a more sympathetic ear to Emmanuel Macron’s proposals for a greater pooling of Eurozone debt and spending. However, talks aren’t likely to start till the new year, according to senior members of both parties. Der Spiegel
• China Crackdown Hits Stocks, Boosts Bitcoin
World stock markets face an awkward tension in the coming week, caught between record retail numbers that suggest the U.S. economy is in fine fettle and a surprisingly sharp crackdown on the ‘shadow banking’ sector in China that has tightened financial conditions. Asian stocks retreated sharply overnight from Friday’s highs, but the S&P 500 future is inching higher in European trading. Unsurprisingly, the Chinese crackdown is being accompanied by another surge in Bitcoin, which looks like notching its latest $1,000 increment in record time. WSJ, subscription required
• Trouble in Paradise
Indonesia shut the airport on Bali and ordered an evacuation of residents as the Mount Agung volcano prepared to erupt. Ash clouds have already made flights into and out of the island impossible and the Disaster Mitigation Agency says lava will certainly spill over the caldera in due course. Some 59,000 tourists are reportedly trapped on the island, of which at least a quarter are Chinese. Fortune
Summaries by Geoffrey Smith; firstname.lastname@example.org