Meredith Corp. Buys G+J USA for $350 Mil.

NEW YORK Meredith Corp. has acquired G+J USA Publishing for $350 million. The sale makes Meredith the country’s second-largest publisher, in terms of circulation, behind Time Inc., according to data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations and BPA Worldwide.

Parents, Child, Fitness and Family Circle move to Meredith in the deal, with a close date of June 30. Also, as part of the transaction, G+J will have until June 30 to sell the assets of its business titles Inc. and Fast Company to Meredith. If Meredith does acquire those publications, it plans to sell them via a private sale or auction.

Among the key benefits for Meredith will be to significantly grow its marketshare among young women, adding some 30 million new readers under the age of 35 (and will reach a total of 135 million women).

Parents, Child, Fitness and Family Circle are established and well-known consumer magazines that will benefit greatly from Meredith’s proven editorial, circulation, sales, database and brand-building expertise,” said Meredith chairman and CEO William Kerr, in a statement. “These titles have significant upside but have underperformed in recent years. We possess the unique skills and resources needed, particularly in the circulation area, to help these magazines realize their potential.”

The sale is the death knell for the Bertelsmann-owned G+J, which has struggled to become a cohesive publishing unit since its acquisition in 1994 from The New York Times Co. In 2000, G+J acquired Fast Company from Mort Zuckerman for $300 million on the eve of the dot-com crash, and the publication proved to be a poor investment.

Next came the Rosie O’Donnell affair, which led to a messy trial in 2003 after O’Donnell quit her self-named magazine. The trial exposed inflated circulation numbers at Rosie and YM, tainting the reputation of G+J and prompting the dismissal of CEO Dan Brewster and several top-level executives. Advertisers fled YM in droves, prompting the company’s new CEO, Denson, to sell the teen title last summer to Conde Nast.

A meeting for G+J staffers is set for today at 3:30 p.m. at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York.