Uncertainty at IPC as Time Inc spins off magazines

The future of IPC Media, the UK-based publisher of Country Life, Marie Claire and NME, was plunged into fresh uncertainty yesterday after its US parent company Time Warner announced plans to spin off its global magazine division.

Time Inc, which includes IPC, will be floated on the New York stock market as a separate company as Time Warner focuses on its faster-growing TV and film interests such as CNN, HBO and the Warner Bros movie studios.

Its decision comes after talks to merge Time Inc with the US publishing group Meredith collapsed, and Time Inc's chief executive Laura Lang is now quitting after only 15 months.

IPC maintained it is business as usual at Britain's biggest magazine publisher but the 1,800 staff are already on edge as up to 150 jobs face the chop in a 90-day consultation.

The spin-off will raise questions about whether IPC should remain part of Time Inc. Few of IPC's titles have much cachet in America, and private equity buyers could be interested.