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Time Warner to spin off publishing unit Time Inc.

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Time Warner announced Wednesday it would spin off its publishing arm Time Inc. by the end of the year, allowing the US conglomerate to focus on its television and film operations.

Chief executive Jeff Bewkes said in a statement that a spinoff "provides strategic clarity" for the media-entertainment giant.

The announcement comes after reports of unsuccessful talks to sell some of the titles in the Time Inc. group, and as rival News Corp. is undergoing a similar split of its entertainment and publishing operations.

Time Warner said its board had authorized management "to proceed with plans for the complete legal and structural separation of Time Inc. from Time Warner" which would make the publishing unit a "an independent, publicly traded company."

The company publishes 21 US magazines, including its flagship Time magazine, People, Fortune and Sports Illustrated. It has 25 websites and several international magazines including global editions of Time and Fortune and publishing operations in Britain and Mexico.

Bewkes said that "after a thorough review of options, we believe that a separation will better position both Time Warner and Time Inc."

He added that "a complete spin-off of Time Inc. provides strategic clarity for Time Warner Inc., enabling us to focus entirely on our television networks and film and TV production businesses, and improves our growth profile."

Time Inc., he said, will also benefit "from the flexibility and focus of being a stand-alone public company and will now be able to attract a more natural stockholder base."

Time Inc. chief executive Laura Lang has agreed to remain in the job until after a successor has been identified, the company said.

"Laura indicated to me that we should find a different kind of CEO for this new public company, and I respect her decision," Bewkes said.

"She has been a great partner who has given Time Inc. forward momentum to make this transition possible, and I look forward to working with her to select the right leader to head the company as an independent entity."

The publishing industry is grappling with a steep drop in print advertising revenue, steadily declining circulation and the migration of readers to free news online.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130306/time-warner-spin-publishing-unit-time-inc