Bid packages are due to Allen & Company tomorrow for Newsweek, the beleaguered weekly being put on the block by owner the Washington Post Company. So far Thompson Reuters, Allbritton (owners of Politico), Steven Rattner, Mort Zuckerman, and billionaire Haim Saban have been reported to be interested, though the Journal reports that Zuckerman and Reuters won’t submit bids tomorrow. There are also rumors out of London that the Guardian might be interested. Ritchie Capital Management is likely to put in a bid. And according to Keith Kelly last week, TV Guide owner Open Gate Capital is also “definitely” bidding.
When Open Gate bought TV Guide, they famously did it for only $1 (and even borrowed billions from the seller to seal the deal). Their entrance into the auction process echoes a cheeky offer made last night by Business Insider owner Henry Blodget to buy Newsweek for the same amount.
That bid may not be far off, according to David Carr’s analysis in the Times. “If I were at the Washington Post Company, which is selling the weekly after owning it for almost 50 years, I wouldn’t be waiting at the mailbox,” he writes. “Certainly there will be interest — nostalgia and a desire for civic engagement are powerful forces — but if a check is going to be written for Newsweek, it may be written by the seller.” The magazine’s steady losses aren’t the only problem, argues Carr. In the “current digital news ecosystem, having ‘week’ in your title is anachronistic in the extreme, what an investor would call negative equity,” he wrote.
For what it’s worth, Newsweek offers a plucky defense on that last front. “This is a small irritant, but what the hell: So what?” an editor wrote in a lengthy Tumblr rebuttal. “In the ‘digital news ecosystem,’ ‘Newsweek’ is a better name than ‘Time’ or ‘People’; ever try Googling ‘Time’?” Heh. See you tomorrow, guys!