Once threatened by Yahoo, Time Inc. may now be its savior

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Magazine publisher Time Inc. may be looking into merging with Yahoo’s core digital operations, potentially saving the company from being subsumed by potential buyers. According to Bloomberg, executives from Time Inc., which owns a slate of established print publications, including Time, Sports Illustrated, People, and Fortune magazines, were receptive to the idea after a presentation from Citigroup bankers advocating for the maneuver.

Word of the merger comes a week after Yahoo said it would lay off 15 percent of its staff, and form a committee to explore the potential offers for selling part or all of the company. Numerous companies have expressed interest in purchasing Yahoo’s spun-off media business, including Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast.

Valued at $1.5B, Time Inc. is considerably smaller than the competition and is the only company reportedly considering a merger. According to the report, the presentation laid out how the two companies could merge through a tax-free transaction called a “Reverse Morris Trust,” which allows a company to merge with a spun-off subsidiary. As a result, Time Inc. would only be interested in Yahoo’s “core business.” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer would likely not be a part of the Time-Yahoo conglomerate.

On the one hand, Yahoo’s board of directors would likely opt for a complete sale, according to a Bloomberg source. On the other, a tax-free merger may wind up providing the best value for Yahoo shareholders, whose stock has dropped 29 percent in the last year.

Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp, who once served as a vice president at AOL, reportedly has “ideas” for how to expand the combined company’s reach. Time Inc., a historically print-centric operation, apparently has high hopes for Yahoo’s 200 million unique viewers. Time Inc. recently purchased MySpace parent company Viant Technology Inc. to expand its data-gathering and targeted advertising networks.

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