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Meredith in Talks to Sell Sports Illustrated to Authentic Brands Group (Report)

The deal is valued at $110 million, according to a report published in the Wall Street Journal

Meredith Corporation is in talks to sell Sports Illustrated to the licensing company Authentic Brands Group for $110 million, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, citing “people familiar with the matter.”

Insiders consulted by the Journal disagreed at how far along the talks were, with one saying the negotiations were in the “early days” while another insisted that Meredith was looking to do a deal as early as next month.

A rep for Meredith declined to comment. Authentic Brands did not immediately respond to request for comment.

If Authentic Brands does acquire Sports Illustrated, the venerable sports publication will join a slew of brands which make up the company portfolio including Nautica, Aéropostale, Juicy Couture, Herve Leger and Jones New York.

If a sale does go through it would be a coup for Meredith, which has been struggling to find a buyer for the legacy media property for months. The company acquired Sports Illustrated along with Fortune Magazine, People, Entertainment Weekly, and Time after purchasing Time Inc. in January 2018 in a Koch brothers-backed $2.8 billion deal.

After a round of layoffs last March, the company moved to unload many of their newly acquired marquee brands. Despite facing major industry headwinds, they successfully sold Time Magazine to Salesforce billionaire Marc Benioff last September for $190 million, and two months later Fortune Magazine was scooped up by Thai billionaire Chatchaval Jiaravanon for $150 million.

Things did not work out as well for another property, Money Magazine, which discontinued its print edition this month after Meredith was unable to secure a buyer. The company says they planned to hold on to and invest in the property as a digital publication, the New York Post reported. 

Meredith has reportedly struggled to find a buyer for Sports Illustrated. The $110 million figure reported by the Wall Street Journal is considerably smaller than the $150 million originally sought by the company when the magazine was first put on the block last year, the New York Post reported.