Talking New Media

Time Inc. sells Sunset magazine to LA-based private equity firm

Despite the announced sale to Meredith, Time Inc. is moving forward with its announced title sales, and may soon announce a buyer for its UK magazine portfolio

The sale of Time Inc. to Meredith does not mean the end of the sales of magazine titles. Today, Time Inc. announced that Sunset has been sold to the Los Angeles–based private equity firm Regent L.P.

Other sales, such as Time Inc. UK, could still be announced before the end of the year. The money would presumably stay within the company and allow Meredith some breathing room, or an opportunity to pay down some debt.

Sunset was founded in 1898 and is a synonymous with the Western U.S. For many years the magazine was owned by the Lane family. Lawrence W. Lane had been an advertising executive with Better Homes and Gardens when he purchased Sunset in 1929. Time Warner picked up the title in 1990, which was quite a shock for those of us on the west coast.

The magazine, with a rate base of 1.25 million, never fit into Time Inc. and was an obvious choice to be sold off.

The buyer, Regent, is a global private equity firm which owns some publishing titles including Military Times, Army Times, Navy Times and Defense News. It also has investments in Lillian Vernon, Regis Salons and Supercuts UK. Last year it acquired Sightline Media Group from Tegna (formerly Gannett), and the year before that acquired the Weider History Group.

Here is the announcement from Time Inc.:

LOS ANGELES, CA and NEW YORK, NY — November 30, 2017 — Time Inc. today announced the sale of SUNSET to Regent L.P., a Los Angeles–based private equity firm led by investor Michael Reinstein. Based in Oakland, California, SUNSET is the defining lifestyle brand of the modern American West, with coverage that includes travel, food, wine, home and garden across its monthly print publication, digital and social platforms, books, events and experiences. The storied brand, which was founded in 1898, has been a forum for literary giants like Jack London, Dashiell Hammett and Sinclair Lewis, a showcase for transformational architecture and design, and a launching pad for the modern environmental movement through its early affiliation with conservationist and Sierra Club founder John Muir.

“As a native Californian, I am honored to take the mantle as the fourth owner of this iconic and beloved institution. For almost 120 years SUNSET has been the definitive, pioneering voice of the promise, hope, values and innovative spirit of the West,” said Michael Reinstein, Chairman, Regent L.P. “We are excited to partner with SUNSET’s talented Editor-in-Chief Irene Edwards and her accomplished team to ensure that SUNSET continues to thrive for generations to come.”

“We’re pleased to have found such a passionate buyer in Michael Reinstein and Regent. For 27 years, we’ve expanded SUNSET’s influence and reach as the defining lifestyle brand of the modern American West serving an audience of 6.5 million across platforms. Now, under the new ownership team led by Michael Reinstein, SUNSET will have the opportunity to reach new heights. We thank the SUNSET team for their talented work, tireless commitment and passion,” said Rich Battista, President and CEO, Time Inc.

SUNSET reaches an audience of more than 6.5 million across its digital, print and social platforms. Its flagship events include the annual Celebration Weekend, which debuted in 1998 and has drawn hundreds of thousands of attendees with celebrity chefs, garden tours, wine seminars and stand-alone experiences, such as the SUNSET Smart Cottage; the SUNSET Idea House program, which will debut its Palm Springs Idea House at the Modernism Week design festival in February; Camp SUNSET, a summer camp-inspired workshop series taught by SUNSET editors that will launch to consumers in 2018; and the SUNSET International Wine Competition, one of the most successful wine competitions launched in US history.