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Digital firm buys Hollywood's Variety

Oct. 9, 2012 at 3:32 PM   |   Comments

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Internet firm Penske Media Corp. has purchased the iconic Hollywood trade journal Variety for $25 million, the companies said.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday Variety had been on the block for seven months and Penske, owners of Deadline.com, an online competitor of Variety, had only emerged as the leading bidder in the past two weeks.

Penske found financial backing from Third Point, a hedge fund controlled by Yahoo! Board member Daniel Loeb.

Moreover, the purchase is illustrative of the shifting news and publication landscape. Variety, owned by Reed Elsevier, is 107 years old. Its digital rival Deadline.com has been in operation for just six years.

Chief Executive Officer Jay Penske said it is not his intention to gut Variety, which has a staff of 120.

"Before we make any substantial changes, we need to spend more time with the current team. We need more data," he said in an email.

"We see an incredible opportunity for future collaboration while remaining editorially independent," he said.

Variety's fortunes have been on the wane. Revenue stood at $92 million and profits at about $33 million in 2006. For 2012, revenue is expected to drop to $45 million and profits have dropped to $6 million.

Nevertheless, Penske said he does not want to break up the successful team running Deadline.com. He also said he wanted to make Variety "absolutely fundamental and indispensable."

"We are not buying Variety to gut the newsroom. We are buying the business to build it. Are there going to be changes? Yes. Do we want to reduce our dependency on print revenues? Yes. How quickly that can happen, we'll know more in the coming months," he said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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