Friday, July 06, 2012

Ron Burkle Likes Variety

Reed Elsevier, which bought Variety in 1987, put the title up for sale in March. A source told the FT that in 2008 -- the thick of the ad slump --Variety did about $30 million in revenue. Since 1905 Variety has covered the business of Hollywood. It would be a something of a crown jewel for any media organization wanting to gain a foothold in that space, by those revenue estimates and because of its prestige. The question, however, in this digital era, is just how much is Variety worth. We will soon find out. From Page Six:
Billionaire Ron Burkle is looking to further extend his influence in Hollywood by buying entertainment trade paper Variety, sources tell Page Six.
"Taking over Variety would continue supermarket magnate Burkle’s buying spree, which this year alone includes investments in industry hangout Soho House, BlackBook Media, Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media, concert-booking firm Artist Group International and UK agent Duncan Heath’s Independent Talent Group. He’s also an investor in numerous Harvey Weinstein films and Al Gore’s Current TV.
"Also bidding for the showbiz 'bible,' sources add, are Sharon Waxman’s site, the Wrap, and Jay Penske’s Penske Media — which owns Nikki Finke’s Deadline and Bonnie Fuller’s Hollywood Life.

"Sources say that Burkle, Waxman and Penske have all been invited back to a 'third round of bidding,' along with other potential buyers, for the 107-year-old Variety — and that the price is currently 'in the upper $30 millions.' 
"The trade paper, being sold off by Reed Business Information, was estimated to be worth about $100 million in 2008, but The Post reported its valuation has since dipped sharply.  
"A source familiar with the offering explained the process whereby potential buyers give their pitches and are then 'invited back' for each additional round of bidding.  
“'Ron owns other digital assets, so this is a smart move for him to be in that space,' said one media watcher. Others are wondering whether Burkle has a specific strategy in mind.  
Waxman, meanwhile, has 'an aggressive move up her sleeve,' the source said.
 Waxman is going to have to be pretty aggressive. Deadline and Variety are a good fit -- although upper $30 millions? This blogger is rooting for her, a journalist/businessperson to win out but it will be an uphill battle against a billionaire's deep pockets.

The Page Six headline, one cannot fail to note, "Variety is spice for Burkle," suggests, cheekily the billionaire's colorful past. Burkle, a former BFF of Bill Clinton, is allegedly something of an afficionado of escorts.

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