The Koch brothers say they will have “no influence” over Time Inc.’s iconic magazines

But they’re putting $ 650 million into a deal to buy the publisher

Charles and David Koch say they’re investing in the magazine business because it’s a good investment — not because they want media outlets to carry their conservative messages.

That’s the on-the-record answer to the question the media world has been asking for a couple of weeks, since we learned that the billionaire brothers were going to back Meredith’s bid for Time Inc.

Now that deal is official, and the brothers say they’re putting $ 650 million into the merged company but won’t meddle with it. From their press release announcing the deal:

“[Koch Equity Development, a Koch Industries subsidiary] will not have a seat on the Meredith Board and will have no influence on Meredith’s editorial or managerial operations. KED’s non-controlling, preferred equity investment underscores a strong belief in Meredith’s strength as a business operator, its strategies, and its ability to unlock significant value from the Time Inc. acquisition.”

It’s certainly possible the Kochs just think there’s a good deal to had here. And there are certainly other billionaires who have invested in media companies without monkeying with them: Warren Buffett has had a fondness for local newspapers. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal used to be a major investor in Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate.

It’s also possible that Koch’s media investment will be less expansive than it seems right now. As we said before, the next key question will be whether Meredith-plus-Time’s future involves Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and other titles that don’t seem to make sense in Meredith’s portfolio.

And in any scenario, the merged company is going to be slimmer than it is now. Time Inc CEO Rich Battista is supposed to leave when the deal closes — the two companies say that will happen in the first quarter of 2018 (though AT&T thought it would own Time Warner by now, too).

Battista won’t be the only employee leaving the combined company. Meredith says it can pull out “cost synergies of $ 400 million to $ 500 million in the first full two years of operation.”

Time Inc. employees, who have spent the last decade acclimating to yearly layoffs, know how some of those synergies will be achieved.

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HuffPost’s Lydia Polgreen and Time Inc.’s Rich Battista are coming to Code Media 2018

 You should join us there.

Quick: How do you turn a giant print publisher into a nimble digital company?

Tough, right?

Here’s another: How do you transform a web site best known for a single, larger than life personality into a mainstream news site for the Trump age?

Not easy, either.

But here’s the thing: In a few months, we’re going to talk to the two people whose job depends on answering those questions. Want to hear what they have to say?

So do we. That’s why we’re excited to announce that Time Inc. CEO Rich Battista and Huffpost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen are joining us at the next edition of Code Media, next February 12 and 13, in Huntington Beach, Calif.

If you’ve been to earlier versions of Code Media, you’ll know what to expect from next year’s edition: Onstage interviews with the most interesting and powerful people in media and technology — and offstage moments that let you connect with people who will help you and your company navigate a challenging and rewarding landscape.

Code Media is coming to Huntington Beach, CA, Feb. 12-13.

If you make media, monetize it or get it in front of people, you’ll want to be there.

Battista is a sales veteran who took over the massive magazine publisher a year ago. Inside the company, his challenge is figuring out how use its declining print business to launch new digital businesses, while he still can. Externally, he needs to convince Wall Street that he was right not to sell the whole business earlier this year.

Polgreen is a veteran New York Times journalist who joined HuffPost at the beginning of 2017, and is trying to remake a publisher that many people still connect with founder Arianna Huffington. She’s simultaneously overhauling her newsroom, and reaching out to would-be readers who’ve been ignored by big news publishers. Oh — and she’s also navigating life as part of the Verizon/Oath/Aol/Yahoo media experiment.

So, Kara Swisher and I will have lots of questions for both of them. We want to talk big-picture strategy stuff and the tactical plans they use to operate media properties in 2017.

And when we’re not talking to them, or you guys, we might sneak a peak at the Pacific Ocean: We’re hosting Code Media 2018 at the very cool Pasea Hotel & Spa, which is a very nice place to spend two days in February.

We’ll have lots of speaker announcements throughout the fall. But no need to wait: If you register now, you’ll save $ 500 with first mover price.

Sign up here, and we’ll see you in February.


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