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NY Times sells Golf Digest magazine

The New York Times Co. has sold its magazine group, which consists of Golf Digest and three other golf titles, to Advance Publications Inc., completing its exit from the magazine business.

Neither company disclosed the value of the deal today, but industry sources said it could be as high as $400 million.

The transaction includes GolfDigest.com, the magazine unit's facilities in Trumbull, Conn., and several golf schools.

The New York Times Co. had already sold off its other magazines, including several women's magazines and sports titles.

The company had been a bidder in the auction last year for Times Mirror Magazines, a group held by the Tribune Co. that included several sports titles such as Golf Magazine. Those magazines ended up going to Sports Illustrated publisher Time Inc., a unit of the media conglomerate AOL Time Warner Inc.

With the magazine business facing an advertising slowdown, slower newsstand sales and higher paper costs, The New York Times had a much smaller base from which to compete against giant magazine publishers such as Time Inc. and Conde Nast.

Russell T. Lewis, president of The New York Times Co., said in a statement that the sale of the magazine unit, which now makes up less than 3 percent of the company's revenue, would "allow us to focus our resources on our larger businesses.''

The deal includes the instructional monthly Golf Digest, which has a circulation of 1.5 million, the newsweekly Golf World, the new monthly Golf Digest Woman and the trade monthly Golf World Business.

For Advance Publications, the deal represents the first major foray into the sports publishing business. Advance's Conde Nast unit publishes a number of glossy titles such as Vogue, Glamour, and Vanity Fair, and its Fairchild Publications division, which it acquired from Walt Disney Co. in 1999, publishes Jane, W, Women's Wear Daily, and several trade publications.

The New York Times Co. sold a group of women's magazines including Child, Family Circle, Fitness, and McCall's in 1994 to Gruner & Jahr, a unit of the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG, and in 1997 it sold six tennis, sailing, and ski magazines.


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