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Time Inc. To Sell Majority Of Essence Magazine To Focus On “Core Brands”

Essence Magazine

Nearly twelve years after Time Inc. initially seized control of Essence Magazine, the company is looking to sell its majority stake in the company by the end of this year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Over the past 47 years Essence Magazine has become a staple for black women. With its down-to-earth tone, and “sister-girl” sensibility, the brand has since expanded beyond print to encompass an annual festival featuring seminars, performances, and appearances from black celebs, musicians, and personalities. With a prominent feature in the recent “surprise” box-office summer hit film “Girls Trip,” it would appear that Essence is a hot commodity.

While Essence has been considered one of Time’s thriving brands, Rich Battista, the company’s chief executive, cited Essence’s “events business” and growing digital presence as a reason to seek a new investor. “A new investor might have the resources to enable Essence to expand its growing events business at a time when many publications are seeking new revenue opportunities,” Battista told WSJ. The most recent Essence Festival reportedly attracted more than 470,000 attendees, which earned more than the magazine made all year, according to WSJ.

And with the decline of print advertising, Time is focusing more on its “core brands.”  “The media company said at the time it intended to focus on its core brands, among them People, InStyle and Real Simple, and TIME.

As Essence makes this entrepreneurial transition once again, the conversation about returning the company back to black ownership will likely be revived. Battista said that the publisher will keep a stake in Essence as there is still “real upside” for the brand, but they are looking for a “strategic partner with investment capital” to “unlock value” for the magazine. He said that he hopes the transaction will go through by the end of 2017. Time stock has traded up nearly 3% since the announcement.

So it will be interesting to see what direction Essence goes in next.

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Phyllis Coley
Phyllis D. Coley is CEO/Publisher of Spectacular Magazine and Host of Spectacular Magazine Radio Show. With a B.A. in English from NCCU, the Durham native began her professional career as Promotions/Marketing Director for New York City’s WKTU-FM. While at the radio station, Coley discovered the rap group Kid ‘n Play and managed them for five years, guiding their music and movie careers to success. Moving back to Durham, Coley produced a nationally syndicated television show, The Electric Factory, while working as News Director for FOXY 107/104. In April 2002, recognizing a void in highlighting the achievements of African Americans, she started her own business publishing ACE Magazine. Coley launched Spectacular Magazine in November 2004. Recognizing the lack of pertinent and truthful information, Coley began Spectacular Magazine Radio Show in March 2009. Coley is the organizer of Durham's Annual MLK/Black History Month Parade and the Annual North Carolina Juneteenth Celebration. She currently serves on Central Children’s Home Board of Directors, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Advisors, as Immediate Past Secretary of the Durham Rotary Club Board of Directors and is one of the founding members of the Triangle United Way’s African American Leadership Initiative.

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