IPC Media, the magazine giant behind Marie Claire, NME and Country Life, has shown why its US owner Time Warner has been keen to hang onto it as the British company paid a £51.5m dividend.
The huge payout was revealed in annual accounts for IPC, which is the UK's biggest magazine publisher with 65 print titles and websites. A year earlier, the group paid no dividend to its parent company. IPC's finances look to be in better shape after it disposed of around 20 weaker and more specialist titles, included lads mag Loaded, in 2010. Pre-tax profits jumped to £45.5m in 2011 against £36.9m a year earlier. Turnover from continuing operations dipped 1.8 per cent to £331.2m as print continues to feel the pressure with the rise of the internet and a tough economy. Revenues were down 7 per cent compared to 2010 when the former titles are also included.
IPC, which is based on the South Bank and run by chief executive Sylvia Auton, cut more than 180 jobs, reducing total staff to 1,755.
There has been on-off speculation for years that Time Warner, which owns TV and cable interests including HBO and CNN, might sell off IPC and its US print division Time Inc.
Some analysts have suggested that print is not a core asset and there is little synergy between IPC and Time Inc, which runs titles such as People and Sports Illustrated as well as gossip website TMZ. However, Evelyn Webster, a senior Time executive and former IPC chief executive, told Media Week earlier this week: "No, IPC is not being sold. IPC is a core part of Time Inc's business."