The publisher of some of Britain’s best-known magazine titles, including Country Life, Marie Claire and NME, is in talks to sell the business to a former owner of the media-buying group? Aegis.
Sky News has learnt that Epiris, a private equity firm, is in discussions with advisers to Time Inc, the US-based media company, about a takeover of its British ?magazines arm.
The discussions are understood to ?have been underway since before Time announced last week that it was exploring options for the unit.
Media industry sources said that the headline value of a deal for the British operations, which were previously ?called IPC Media, was likely to be in the region of £200m.
However, the UK arm carries a substantial pension deficit, which may complicate efforts to sell it, according to insiders.
Epiris has backed dozens of medium-sized British companies, including Hollywood Bowl, Hotter Shoes and the Esporta gym chain.
Bankers at Morgan Stanley are handling the sale process, which is also expected to attract interest from other bidders.
They could include Exponent Private Equity, which enjoyed a successful stint as the owner of the Radio Times publisher Immediate Media before selling it to Burda, a German media group.
Time is offloading the UK business, which also includes the TV Times and Wallpaper magazines, as part? of a transformation programme aimed at returning it to financial health.
The heavily indebted US parent, which publishes Sports Illustrated and the eponymous current affairs title Time, has identified other assets in the US and Europe to put up for sale.
The auction of Time Inc UK comes during a period of protracted turbulence for print magazine publishers, with circulation and advertising revenue numbers under constant pressure.
British newspapers? are experiencing similar trends, one of the factors in Richard Desmond’s efforts to sell his Northern & Shell publishing empire – home of the Daily Express and Star – to Trinity Mirror.
Epiris declined to comment on Friday.