Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg

Publisher pursues sale of noncore assets after deciding against sale of the whole company

Time Inc. TIME 3.15% has hired an investment bank to explore a possible sale of its Time Inc. UK division and is in early-stage discussions with potential buyers, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The move is part of the magazine publisher’s efforts to sell off noncore assets after deciding against a sale of the entire company in April.

The U.K. division’s brands include Horse & Hound, Country Life, and Decanter, according to its website. It also publishes such fashion and beauty titles as InStyle and Marie Claire UK.

In its 2016 annual report, Time Inc. said its U.K. operations generated $313 million in revenue, down from $370 million in 2015. The division’s revenue represented 10% of the company’s total 2016 revenue of almost $3.1 billion.

It is unclear how much money Time Inc. may be able to get in a sale of the U.K. business.

The decision to re-examine its brand portfolio comes as Time Inc. is betting more heavily on its digital and video future, and as its print advertising and circulation revenues continue to decline.

Time Inc. shares had topped more than $19 earlier this year, when discussions were ongoing with potential suitors for the whole company, but now trade around $14.30, giving the company a market value of $1.4 billion.

On Monday, Time Inc. said it was looking to sell a majority stake in Essence, the monthly African-American women’s lifestyle publication focused on entertainment, fashion, beauty and culture.

Separately, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Time Inc. is exploring the sale of three magazines—Coastal Living, Sunset and Golf. A spokesman for Time Inc. declined to comment.

One publisher in the golf field who asked not to be identified said that Golf magazine, which covers golfing news, instruction and equipment, among other topics, has a strong digital presentation. Golf had a total paid and verified circulation of 1.4 million for the six-month period ended Dec. 31, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

Both Coastal Living and Sunset are well-respected regional publications. Coastal Living had a total paid and verified circulation of 659,000 for the six-month period ended Dec. 31, while Sunset had circulation of 1.3 million.

“Time Inc. is disposing nonstrategic assets that aren’t likely to play a critical role in the company’s future,” said media consultant Peter Kreisky. “The three U.S. magazines could prosper better under different ownership with greater incentive to invest to realize their potential.”