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Surfer Magazine Owners Looking to Ride Recent Wave of Publishing Sales

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The owners of Surfer magazine are considering selling the San Juan Capistrano-based monthly, the oldest publication devoted to the Southland’s signature sport.

For Better Living, an Auburn, Calif., company that has owned Surfer for about 30 years, has hired an investment banking firm to explore financing options, including the sale, partial sale or partnership deals involving its Surfer Publications unit.

Besides Surfer, which made its debut in 1959, the division’s holdings consist of several magazines devoted to the so-called extreme sports, including Snowboarder, Skateboarder, Powder and Bike.

Officials at Surfer Publications have lobbied for the division’s sale since For Better Living founder F.G. “Bud” Fabian retired two years ago.

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The division, also based in San Juan Capistrano, needs more money to expand its monthly titles and fuel related projects including books, newsletters and TV properties, said Danna Lewis-Gordon, the unit’s chief executive.

“More substantially, we’re looking for acquisitions in new markets,” she said.

Acacia Capital, a New York investment banking firm, is studying financing options. Officials at Acacia and For Better Living couldn’t be reached Tuesday.

Fabian bought Surfer in the late 1960s from original owner John Severson, but the marriage has always been an odd one. For Better Living’s primary business is the manufacture of precast concrete.

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Surfer claims an unaudited monthly circulation of 112,000 and caters to longtime aficionados of the sport. Its chief competitor is Surfing Magazine, which is based in San Clemente, has an audited circulation of 115,000 and generally younger readers.

A sale would be the latest in a year of acquisitions in the extreme-sports publishing field.

Petersen Publishing in Los Angeles recently took over in-line skating magazines, In Line and Box. In January, Transworld Media of Oceanside (which is owned by Times Mirror, parent company of the Los Angeles Times) purchased Ride Publishing in Santa Ana. Ride publishes four BMX bicycling magazines, Snap, Ride, BMX and BMX Business News.

And last year, Surfing Magazine and Bodyboarding Magazine were acquired by Primedia of New York.

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