IAC to pay $2.7 billion for publisher of ‘People’ and ‘Better Homes’

Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp. agreed to buy the magazine publishing operations of Meredith for $2.7 billion, obtaining a stable of well-known titles such as People and Better Homes & Gardens to bolster its own lineup. Meredith jumped on the news. 

Under the accord announced Wednesday, a unit of IAC will pay $42.18 a share cash for Meredith’s National Media Group, which includes its digital and print magazine businesses, and the corporate operations.

The purchase of Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith bolsters a catalog of IAC digital content that includes Brides, Serious Eats and Investopedia. Meredith, a nearly 120-year-old publisher that got its start with a farming magazine, also owns titles such as Southern Living, Travel + Leisure and InStyle. 

The deal lets IAC bulk up again after shedding operations over the past two years. Though Meredith’s roots are in print media, IAC is mostly interested in the company’s digital assets, Cowen & Co. analyst John Blackledge said in a Sept. 24 note. The acquisition will “add significant scale to IAC’s already strong digital media biz,” he said.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year.

Meredith gained as much as 8.2% to $59 in after hours trading. Its shares also reflect the $16.99 a share the company expects to receive from Gray Television Inc. for its local media business. IAC rose 0.8% to $132.75 in extended trading. The stock gained less than 1% to $131.68 at the close in New York and has advanced 4.5% this year. 

Diller’s IAC slimmed down its holdings during the pandemic, spinning off Tinder and Hinge owner Match Group Inc. in 2020 and the video platform Vimeo in 2021. Meredith has been paring back its operations as well. The company agreed to sell its broadcast stations in June for $2.8 billion to Gray Television Inc. 

Meredith, founded in 1902 when Edwin Thomas Meredith began selling a periodical called Successful Farming, went on to become the largest magazine publisher in U.S. 

The company acquired some of its highest-profile publications in 2018 when it bought Time Inc. for about $1.8 billion in cash, with financial help from the billionaire Koch brothers.

But it soon began shedding the news and sports brands it got from the purchase, concentrating on its more female-focused publications, like Better Homes & Gardens and the lucrative People magazine. 

It sold Time magazine to Salesforce.com Inc. founder Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, for $190 million. Fortune magazine and its related businesses was sold for $150 million. And Authentic Brands snapped up Sports Illustrated for $110 million.

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