Update: This was the text of an e-mail sent out to Primedia Business employees this morning:
To: Primedia Business Employees
From: John French, Executive Vice President
Jack Condon, COO
August 5, 2004
“Today, as part of the second quarter earnings release, PRIMEDIA will be announcing that we are evaluating strategic partnerships regarding three Primedia Business properties: Folio:, Circulation Management and American Demographics.
Securities laws require us to disclose these discussions even though they haven’t concluded; but we expect that we can give you more specific information about the nature of the potential partnerships shortly. These discussions affect no other PRIMEDIA business property.
You will note in the earnings release and in the conference call today that PRIMEDIA business met an exceptional milestone: revenue growth for the first time in twelve quarters. As the release notes, and was clear during the strategic review meetings during the last month, there are many exciting initiatives going on throughout the PRIMEDIA business portfolio, and we look forward to working with you, continuing the momentum we are building and the growth commitments we have made.”
Now the news: Got this via Rex Hammock…in the just announced Q2 results for Primedia, a curious paragraph: “the company is evaluating strategic partnerships regarding the Folio, Circulation Management and American Demographics properties in the Business Information Segment. The operating results of these businesses have been classified as discontinued operations.”
The Primedia’s media related properties have been languishing for a long time, since its ill-fated MediaCentral foray…Folio has gone through a number of editor changes over the last 3-4 years, and has been on borrowed time for a long time..that is no secret. AD, which used to be a favorite magazine of mine once upon a time, has also been trying to fit into the new statistics-and-analysis-loaded world brought on by the Internet.
Curiously, the company recently relaunched Folio’s website…
Who would be willing to buy it? My wild guess: Access Intelligence (they bought Cableworld from Primedia)…or maybe not. Not much value in those 3 properties: low & declining advertiser base, as one media investment banker just told me. Another potential buyer name floating around: Crain Communications
On the other hand, I just spoke to an internal company source, who told me that the prevailing thought within the company is that the three magazines must be sold as a block, and not piecemeal, for them to be of any value to any buyer.
Update 2: BtoB Media Business picks up the story in an e-mail alert: Folio:, in particular, has faced increased competition over the past 18 months by startups covering aspects of the publishing industry. Both BtoB sister publication Media Business and Red 7 Media’s M10 were launched in 2003. “It’s probably one of the larger factors in their decision, the impact of the competition,” said Reed Phillips, managing partner of media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips.
Update 3 (last item on page): NYPost reports that poential buyers/partners may include former Primedia CEO William Reilly, currently building F+W Publications and VNU, which owns Editor & Publisher, Adweek and Billboard.