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Time Inc. isn’t selling itself after all, so its stock is down and job cuts are coming

The publisher will sell off some of its titles, though.

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A Time magazine fan shows off a January 2016 edition.
Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Time Inc. says it’s going to be fine on its own. Wall Street disagrees.

The magazine publisher’s shares are down more than 18 percent this morning after it announced it is not going to sell itself, after talking to potential buyers for months.

The fact that Time, whose assets include People, Sports Illustrated and Fortune, didn’t do a deal with rival publisher Meredith Corp. or another suitor is surprising. It will be interesting to figure out the real reason why it didn’t happen.

The fact that Time Inc. shares are down in the wake of the announcement is not surprising: Time traded around $14 up until late last year, when news broke that a group of investors including Edgar Bronfman Jr. had offered $18 a share for the company.

Now, without a sale on the horizon, Time shares are back down below $15.

Meanwhile Time Inc.’s board says it likes a plan laid out by newish CEO Rich Battista, which sounds a lot like the plan some would-be Time Inc. buyers said they would pursue: Focus on exploiting some of the company’s best-known magazine brands in digital and video, and cut costs to account for the company’s declining print business.

That means Time will almost certainly be shrinking its workforce, which various regimes have been cutting for years, but still stood at more than 7,400 people at the end of last year.

“You’re going to see us be smart and aggressive on the cost side,” Battista said in an interview.

And the publisher will also look to sell off some of the 25 titles it operates in the U.S. “We think we want to focus and double down on the core ones,” Battista said, without identifying which ones those are.

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