Time Inc. Is Planning to Sell a Majority Share of Essence

But CEO Rich Battista still maintains it's a core asset

When Time Inc. announced plans to cut around 300 jobs last month, it was part, but not all, of an effort to cut costs at the 94-year-old organization. At the time, CEO Rich Battista told WWD’s Alexandra Steigrad that title sales could be on the table, an echo of a May Q1 earnings call in which Battista said the company planned to sell “non-core assets.”

While not a complete title sale, Battista told Wall Street Journal’s Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg yesterday that Time Inc. was looking for someone to purchase a majority share in Essence magazine, saying, “We want to unlock the value here. We think the best way to do that is to bring in a strategic partner with investment capital. We’re keeping an interest because we see real upside.”

Battista told the WSJ that despite the planned sale of shares, he did consider Essence to be a core asset, and the decision was rooted in a desire to further grow the brand:

Mr. Battista cited Essence’s events business, its growing digital presence, and its long relationship with big marketers, as reasons for optimism.

A new investor might have the resources to enable Essence to expand its growing events business at a time when many publications are seeking new revenue opportunities.

That events business includes the 23-year-old Essence Festival, an annual event whose attendance numbers in the hundreds of thousands. This year, more than 470,000 people attended the New Orleans-based festival.

Other than the job cuts, this has been the most substantial move Time has made since announcing plans to trim the organization. It’s not the only move, however. In June, the company announced it was relocating the large bulk of Food & Wine staff and operations from New York to Birmingham, Ala., where it maintains a food studio.