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Apparently, Felix Dennis is tired of the lad mag business and is considering unloading Stuff, Maxim and Blender, the trifecta of men’s mags that he has managed for over a decade. In hiring Allen & Co., the message is clear: They’re yours if you are interested… and have a check made out for $250 million.

Not bad at all. Clearly there are rumors that a former Wenner Media executive is looking to raise private funds to take over the company. While media is doing well, print is not, manifested clearly by Emap’s ceasing of publishing FHM in the US earlier this year.

Assuming all content is going digital and multi-platforming content is the way of the future, then let’s get creative and do a quick run down of potential parties who should take a look:

Ziff Davis is itself looking to be unloaded, but having missed the boat earlier on when it decided not to buy IGN [IGN was my employer from June-Dec 2005], it might want to look into merging with Maxim/Blender/Stuff and going all digital. It can continue to publish the print versions, but having a pedigree in tech and video games, Ziff Davis can complete the portfolio of men’s brands by turning to lifestyle, babes and music and really offer advertisers all psychodemographics. This, however, would work if the companies reinvented themselves as digital media players with a print past. I doubt they can, and this is why this makes no sense. But technically, a private equity company should look into buying both Ziff Davis and Maxim/Blender/Stuff, reap cost savings, boost sales and then unload them in a couple of years.

Remember one thing: it’s good to buy when an industry and asset are underappreciated and it’s not possible to be more underappreciated than print these days.

Walt Disney (DIS) Don’t laugh. Walt Disney owns ESPN. ESPN is doing very well online relative to Sports Illustrated, but in print, SI is a leader. ESPN could use Maxim/Blender/Stuff to counter SI’s print strength (print strength - what an oxymoron!) and offer advertisers the men’s demo in all psychodemographics. After all, I am not sure if the Maxim reader and ESPN/SI one overlap.

Time Warner (TWX) Same rationale, only difference being that TW owns SI and could bolster the print market for men and leverage Maxim/Blender/Stuff’s solid content online, they are trying to launch more and more in video. For what it’s worth, Maxim/Blender/Stuff provide a lot of eye candy that unlike a text-heavy publishing company would work well in online video. See my post on why video is not suitable for all print companies here.

GE NBC Universal (GE) is strong in the women’s market thanks to its acquisition of iVillage but with men, they’re pretty weak. My take is buy Maxim/Blender/Stuff and position these brands as a hub for men’s programming and iVillage for women and you are set. Between Maxim/Blender/Stuff’s events and access to celebs, NBC has a lot it can leverage. Oh, and $250M is change for GE, one of the top global corporations around.

Viacom (VIA) gave us MTV but fell asleep at the wheel. What better way to regain some mojo than buy one of the coolest brands in the world, Maxim. And, Blender’s mission is to dethrone Rolling Stone, so why not combine print with TV and put it online in BlenderMTV.com (or something like that).

Hearst is moving aggressively into all things online, and it has cost saving opportunities by buying print assets. This one could make sense.

While this is one that might end up going to private equity, the long term value would really rise in the context of another media company. Any thoughts?

Source: Five Candidates To Buy Maxim Magazine