‘National Enquirer,’ ‘Star’ Parent AMI Rumored for Sale

Private equity firm Apollo said to be suitor

Word that celebrity and fitness magazine publisher American Media Inc. is for sale has been making the rounds in the banking community.

A spokeswoman for AMI denied a New York Post report that a sale is in the works. “AMI is a very desirable company,” the rep said. “Since we deleveraged our balance sheet, we’ve received a variety of inbound calls from various financial institutions. The company is not on the block.”

The company's owners have plenty of motivation to sell, though. AMI, publisher of such titles as Star and the National Enquirer, emerged from bankruptcy late last year and seems to be on more solid ground after a string of financial troubles.

Owners of the company, which is led by David Pecker, are still hanging on to $355 million in debt, however.

“Whenever AMI is owned by debt holders, they’re anxious to exit,” said Reed Phillips, managing partner of media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips. The relative lack of media properties available for sale and still-favorable pricing market also make this a ripe time to sell, he added.

The Post named as the potential acquirer Apollo Management, a private equity firm that just bought American Idol parent CKX.

Speculation of an AMI sale follows stirrings of other media deal-making. Hearst Corp. just completed its acquisition of Hachette Filipacchi Media, and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced that it’s exploring options, which could lead to bringing in a new investor or a sale.