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Time Warner filed documents last week to spin off Time Inc. — the media giant’s worst-performing division — into what Bloomberg calls “the world’s largest publicly traded magazine company.” The move, as ICv2.com notes, would effectively rid Time Warner of all of its remaining print assets except for DC Comics, which remains part of the Warner Bros. Entertainment subsidiary.
Time Inc., whose sales have fallen in five of the past seven years, publishes more than 20 magazines, including its namesake Time, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and People. It added Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure and Departures in September when it acquired American Express Co.’s publishing unit.
Talk of the spinoff, planned for sometime in 2014, began in March after a failed attempt to forge a new venture with Ladies’ Home Journal publisher Meredith Corporation. “A complete spinoff of Time Inc. provides strategic clarity for Time Warner Inc.,” Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said at the time, “enabling us to focus entirely on our television networks and film and TV production businesses, and improves our growth profile.”
ICv2 draws a line between those comments, the Time Inc. spinoff and the recently announced move of DC’s editorial operations from New York City to Burbank, California, to underscore the comics division’s position “as a development house for media properties.”
Kinney National Company purchased National Periodical Publications in 1967 as part of a buying spree that included Panavision and a Hollywood talent agency. Two years later, Kinney acquired the cash-strapped Warner Bros.-Seven Arts. Shortly thereafter, amid a financial scandal over its parking operations, Kinney spun off its non-entertainment assets and changed its name to Warner Communications. Time Inc. and Warner Communications then merged in 1990 to form Time Warner.