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NME Publisher Sold To Private Equity Investor

LONDON (VIP-NEWS) — The UK publisher of NME and Uncut has been sold to private equity company Epiris in a deal thought to be worth about £130m.

Time Inc UK, one of Britain’s biggest magazine publishers, owns 57 titles including What’s on TV, Woman’s Weekly, Horse & Hound and style guide Wallpaper.

Its new owner, Epiris, is expected to explore the sale of a number of underperforming titles, make cuts to the 1,700-strong workforce and also look to increase its presence in UK publishing through further acquisitions.

“The business itself offers plentiful scope for transformation through operational improvement and mergers and acquisitions,” said Alex Fortescue, the managing partner at Epiris. Epiris was advised on the sale by Jefferies International.

Epiris has brought in Sir Bernard Gray, the chairman of New Scientist and formerly a non-executive director of the Radio Times publisher Immediate Media, as executive chairman. The Time Inc UK chief, Marcus Rich, who joined from the publisher of the Daily Mail in 2014, will remain with the company.

Time Inc UK made close to £30m in profits last year on revenues of about £250m.

“At its heart this is a diverse, robust and cash-generative business,” said Chris Hanna, a partner at Epiris. “We intend to bring clarity and simplicity to it, to focus on maximising the potential of its high-quality portfolio.”

Epiris has acquired Time Inc UK from US media group Meredith, which bought parent company Time Inc, publisher of People, Sports Illustrated and Fortune magazines, in November for $1.8bn (£1.3bn).

The deal marks the latest round of consolidation in a UK publishing industry struggling to cope with a decline in readership of printed magazines while attempting to build a digitally viable business in the face of strong competition from rivals such as Facebook and Google.