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Management Group to Buy Ms., Sassy

From Reuters

John Fairfax Ltd., the Australian publishing company, is selling Ms. and Sassy magazines to a management-led group just months after buying the two U.S. women’s periodicals.

Sandra Yates and Anne Summers, two Fairfax executives in the United States, said they have formed privately held Matilda Publications Inc. to buy the magazines for an undisclosed amount of cash. They expect the deal to close May 20.

Ms., the 15-year old feminist magazine, was sold last fall to Fairfax in a deal that was aimed at financing the magazine’s expansion.

But the Fairfax media empire, which took on enormous debt when it went private last year, has had to sell off numerous assets to pay off its borrowings.

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Last month, Fairfax closed two Australian newspapers, and it sold its holdings in a newsprint company and the Australian Associated Press. Ms. and Sassy, aimed at teen-age girls, are the latest to go.

“This financial deal provides us with the best opportunity for the growth of Ms. and Sassy while maintaining their independence,” Yates said in a statement.

Yates said she will retain current staff and maintain the existing formats at both publications. “It will be business as usual,” she said.

Yates also said Sassy, launched last year, has been a “spectacular success.”

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Yates, who will be Matilda’s president and chief executive upon leaving Fairfax, said she and Summers had an option to buy the publications under an agreement with Fairfax arranged last June.

Fairfax’s right to sell the magazines to other bidders expired April 30, freeing Yates and Summers to exercise their option, she said.

Yates said the leveraged buyout was arranged by Wilma Jordan, chief executive of the Jordan Group Inc. Jordan had previously served as a principal of 13-30 Corp., now Whittle Communications Inc., a former owner of Esquire magazine.


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