Marc Benioff is buying Time, so he’s not going to buy Fortune. Who will?
Here’s one contender: Ian Osborne, a British consultant and investor who is working with a group of investors that wants to buy the business magazine.
I’ve been able to confirm that Osborne, under the auspices of his London-based Connaught Limited firm, is in talks with Fortune’s owner Meredith, but I don’t know who else he’s working with.
Osborne generates interesting Google results: If you try a search, you’ll find articles listing his participation in an investment vehicle run by former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya; work as a consultant to British politician David Cameron; his role putting together a now-infamous dinner Uber organized for New York media people; and his status as a pre-IPO investor in Snap.
Here’s a biography that describes Osborne’s role in Osborne & Partners, a consultancy that has the same address as Connaught, where he “advises political and business leaders on international affairs, and on all aspects of their reputation.”
Time Inc. employees are murmuring hopeful things about a deal with Osborne’s group, but I don’t know how advanced Osborne’s conversations with Meredith are. Alan Murray, the Meredith executive who has been overseeing Fortune, Time and the other titles Meredith is selling off, says Meredith is in talks with multiple bidders for Fortune and that he doesn’t think a deal will go through until the end of the year.
Murray wouldn’t comment on Osborne or any other bidder, but did make a point of knocking down a report that another consortium, which includes motivational speaker Tony Robbins and billionaire Dan Gilbert, was in “final negotiations” to buy Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated.
Time/Meredith executives tell me it is very likely that Sports Illustrated will be sold separately from Fortune and Money; it’s not clear whether Fortune and Money will be sold together.
At one point this year, Meredith had floated the notion of getting more than $200 million for Fortune and Money, which they project will generate close to $15 million in adjusted earnings this year. Benioff had circled Fortune for months and was very close to finalizing a deal for the title this summer, then changed his mind and bought Time instead.
One of the issues confronting investors who look at Fortune, Sports Illustrated or any of the titles Meredith is selling off is getting a grip on the publications’ standalone financials if they are carved out from Meredith, since they share sales and other operations. Benioff’s deal calls for Meredith to continue providing some services, “such as consumer marketing, subscription fulfillment, paper purchasing and printing,” once Benioff owns Time magazine.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.