mergers & acquisitions | Oct 7, 2021 |
Barry Diller buys Meredith for $2.7 billion

Meredith Corp., the publisher of Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Southern Living, Magnolia Journal and more than 40 other titles, has agreed to be acquired by billionaire Barry Diller’s InterActivCorp, which will fold the media behemoth into its digital publishing division, Dotdash.

Should the roughly $2.7 billion deal go through, the company will be called Dotdash Meredith and will be run by Dotdash chief executive Neil Vogel. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. Dotdash currently owns 14 digital titles, including Brides, The Spruce and Investopedia. The combined companies are projected to reach more than 175 million online consumers monthly.

Throughout its 120-year history, Meredith has been based in Des Moines, Iowa—though it has a large satellite office in New York. An IAC spokesperson has said that the company plans to “keep a presence” in Iowa, but it’s unclear how much of Meredith’s operations will remain in the Midwest. In an investor call on Wednesday, Vogel said that he was not planning on layoffs as a result of the merger. “Our playbook is going to drive audience, performance, and help the brands maintain their stance in the digital world that they have in the print world,” he said.

InterActivCorp, founded in 1986 as a broadcasting company, was acquired by Diller in 1995. Under Diller, the company has honed a playbook driven by acquisitions, primarily digital companies like Ticketmaster, Vimeo and Match.com, which it later sells off. It purchased Dotdash (which began as About.com) from The New York Times Company for $300 million in 2012.

Meredith itself notably made a major acquisition when it bought Time Inc. for $1.85 billion in 2017. After the sale, the company proceeded to sell off some of the marquee brands, like Time magazine, Sports Illustrated and Fortune, focusing more on its fashion and lifestyle titles—People, InStyle and Real Simple—and creating new publications featuring HGTV stars, like Magnolia Journal from Joanna Gaines and Reveal from Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott. Earlier this year, Meredith sold off its portfolio of 18 TV stations to Gray Television, in a deal that also closed at $2.7 billion.

Still, The Wall Street Journal reports that Meredith has struggled with significant debt as newsstand and print-advertising revenues have slowed. In 2020, Dotdash posted $214 million in revenue and $66 million in adjusted earnings.

“We’ve often found opportunities in the digital transformations of businesses and industries: travel, ticketing, dating, home services, and now publishing,” said Joey Levin, CEO of IAC, in a statement. “Meredith is already seeing record digital growth and we think Dotdash can help accelerate that growth.”

Homepage photo: © Piotr Roae/Adobe Stock

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