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Avenue Capital Said to Be Near Deal to Buy Variety

Avenue Capital, a New York hedge fund, is reportedly near a deal to buy Variety, the Hollywood trade publication

Avenue Capital Group, a hedge fund owned by New York billionaire Marc Lasry, is the leading candidate to purchase Variety, according to the New York Post.

Reed Business Information, Variety's parent company, has accepted Avenue's bid to take over the cash-strapped trade publication for between $30 million and $40 million, unnamed sources told the Post. Reed has been shopping the newspaper since January 2010 for $40 million.

Spokeswomen at Variety and Avenue Capital declined to comment to TheWrap. An executive at Evercore Partners, the investment firm advising on the deal, did not immediately return calls to TheWrap for comment.

The Post reported that the deal could be announced as early as this week.

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The Post has been steadily publishing stories about the Variety sale, usually citing anonymous sources, and listing a lineup of possible buyers, including Deadline.com publisher Penske Media Corporation, Jimmy Finkelstein's Hollywood Reporter and TheWrap.

Supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, who has invested heavily in entertainment over the years,  also has been mentioned as another potential buyer.

Insiders with knowledge of the deal told TheWrap that Penske is no longer bidding. 

Also read: Exclusive: Variety Up for Sale

Finkelstein, who owns Variety competitors Billboard, Adweek and Hollywood Reporter, is also out of the auction, insiders told TheWrap.

Avenue Capital will likely contract out much of Variety's other operations, such as American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer and Star Magazine, the Post reported.

Avenue already controls American Media.

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Lasry's hedge fund is the most recent name to join the list of possible buyers for the 107-year-old entertainment publication.

Reed has been in the process of selling off many of its other assets, but this is the first time it has indicated it would abandon the trade publication as a stand-alone property. It is its last remaining U.S. magazine.

The sale comes just before the 2012 award season — typically a lucrative time for trade publications as they attract For Your Consideration ads — kicks off this fall.

Sharon Waxman contributed to this report.