Future completes £140m takeover of TI Media as coronavirus hits both businesses

Magazine publisher Future has completed its takeover of rival TI Media in a deal worth £140m after selling off three titles over competition concerns.

The merger, which was first proposed back in October, has been finalised at a time when both publishers have furloughed staff as the coronavirus impacts their businesses, with Future also closing six titles.

TI Media, formerly Time Inc UK, publishes 38 brands, mainly focused on women’s interest, lifestyle and sport, including Country Life, Woman and Home, Wallpaper* and Cycling Weekly.

The UK’s competition watchdog told Future it had to sell three titles before it could approve the deal. As a result, it has sold World Soccer and Amateur Photographer to Kelsey Media and Trusted Reviews to Incisive Media.

The sales are expected to complete in the next few weeks.

TI Media also sold digital marketing agency Collective Europe to Azerion Holding earlier this year.

Together, the three titles and marketing agency brought in £12m in revenue for Future and £0.3m in earnings (EBITDA). It received an aggregate purchase price of £1.4m for them.

The acquisition of TI Media gives Future a presence in the wine, golf, equestrian, country living, TV listings, women’s lifestyle and gardening verticals. It now owns more than 220 brands globally.

Coronavirus impact

Measures to slow the spread of coronavirus have had a significant impact on advertising and circulation revenues across the publishing industry.

“High street store closures have impacted magazine sales,” said Future, which expects a “significant reduction in sales in the coming months”.

As a result of Covid-19, Future has closed six titles, including the Official Xbox Magazine, furloughed some staff and imposed pay cuts of up to 20 per cent for senior managers and board members.

It has also reduced its supply of magazines to retailers and rescheduled events to later in the year.

Digital copies and subscriptions are “performing well”, although digital advertising is down.

Digital audience numbers “remain strong”, with some brands recording their biggest ever traffic figures in March as readers search for “advice and inspiration” during the pandemic.

Staff have been working remotely since “an early stage of the pandemic”, the publisher said.

Future’s net debt is £93m following the takeover of TI Media, with available cash headroom of £69m. It has agreed a £30m credit facility, which matures in 12 months, to help it “navigate the impact of Covid-19”.

It said in a statement that Covid-19 “introduces a significant level of uncertainty, but it is “well placed to tackle the challenges that lie ahead”.

TI Media

At TI Media, some staff have been furloughed and some roles closed, with graded salary cuts for those still working. TI Media is also producing smaller print runs to reduce the supply of magazines.

Newsstand revenues have fallen by 30 per cent since lockdown measures were introduced in the UK on 23 March, although new subscriptions are up year-on-year.

Events, including the Decanter World Wine Awards, have also been suspended to a later date.

Time Inc UK rebranded as TI Media in June 2018 after it was bought by private equity firm Epiris earlier the same year for an undisclosed sum from US media company Meredith Corp.

Meredith Corp had bought Time Inc and its UK arm for $2.8bn (£2.25bn).

Last year, TI Media closed the print edition of women’s monthly Marie Claire in the UK and sold music titles NME and Uncut to social music platform Bandlab Technologies.

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