Times Mirror moved Thursday to expand its consumer magazine group by agreeing to buy Field & Stream, Home Mechanix, Skiing and Yachting magazines from newly formed Diamandis Communications for $167.5 million in cash.
Diamandis Communications was formed two weeks ago when senior executives from CBS bought the 21 magazines in CBS' magazine division for $650 million, instantly forming one of the world's major magazine publishers.
The company turned around and sold off these four publications, Chairman Peter Diamandis said, because it needed to "quickly reduce the debt" taken on when it acquired the magazines from CBS.
Times Mirror was among several parties that approached Diamandis, and it would have been interested in buying other publications as well, chairman Robert F. Erburu said in an interview, but these were the four publications Diamandis had decided to sell.
Among the publications Diamandis will keep are Car & Driver, Popular Photography, Road & Track, Stereo Review and Cycle.
Times Mirror approached CBS about acquiring some or all of its magazine division earlier this year, Erburu said, but CBS entertained only the one offer from its own executives.
Appeals to Hunters
Field & Stream, the 92-year-old "sportsman's" magazine devoted to such subjects as hunting, fishing and conservation, is the second-largest journal in the Diamandis/CBS group with a circulation of 2 million after Woman's Day, with 5 million.
Home Mechanix, which was founded in 1928 as Mechanix Illustrated, was third largest in the group with a circulation of 1.2 million. Skiing's circulation is 440,000. Yachting's is 150,000.
The four magazines, all of which are profitable, will join Popular Science, Ski, Golf and Outdoor Life in Times Mirror's consumer magazine group. The Los Angeles-based company also owns the Los Angeles Times and eight other newspapers, as well as interests in cable and broadcast television, electronic and technical publishing.
Analysts said the deal appeals to Times Mirror because the publications involved all have the same mainly male audience as Times Mirror's existing magazines and involve the same subjects, sports and home improvement.
"There is a potential there to help sell advertising in packages," said J. Kendrick Noble Jr., a media industry analyst with the brokerage firm of Paine Webber Mitchell Hutchins.
"That is basically the thrust," Erburu agreed.
Times Mirror said it has no plans to fold any of the magazines it acquires, despite any possible overlap between Ski and Skiing or Outdoor Life and Field & Stream. Such overlaps are common in magazine publishing. Diamandis owns both Car & Driver and Road & Track, as well as Cycle and Cycle World.
In addition to the cash, Times Mirror will assume the deferred subscription liability of the four magazines, a standard procedure where publications cannot realize subscription revenues until all the magazines are delivered.
The sale, which requires government approval, is expected to become final by year-end.
"A year ago I had doubts Times Mirror wanted to stay in the magazine business," said Noble, echoing widespread industry speculation.
That speculation was quieted when Times Mirror last year moved into trade publications by acquiring Broadcasting magazine and National Journal. It is expected to launch a third trade magazine early next year called Sports inc., a weekly magazine devoted to the business of sports.