Ripplewood joins former BMG exec to back Time Warner direct marketing spinout

Bolstering its global direct marketing platform, New York-based private equity powerhouse Ripplewood Holdings today announced its acquisition of Time Life Inc. from the former AOL Time Warner.

Bolstering its global direct marketing platform, New York-based private equity powerhouse Ripplewood Holdings today announced its acquisition of Time Life Inc. from the former AOL Time Warner.

 

The Ripplewood portfolio company through which the deal is being done, Direct Holdings Worldwide, was formed with the April acquisition of online retailer Lillian Vernon Crop in a $60 million (€47 million) going-private deal.

 

Ripplewood is partnering with ZelnickMedia on the deal. ZelnickMedia is run by media veteran Stauss Zelnick, the current chairman and chief executive officer of Direct Holdings. Zelnick is the former CEO of BMG Entertainment.

 

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but a press release noted that Time Life addition will bring Direct Holdings’ annual revenue to approximately $500 million. Time Life had revenues of $350 million in 2003, according to reports.

 

Founded in 1961, Time Life markets music and video products with an historic emphasis on television advertisements. Titles include “Sounds of the ‘80s” and “The Best of Beavis and Butt-Head.”

 

Under the agreement, Direct Marketing receives a long-term license for the “worldwide use of the Time Life brand in the direct marketing of music, video, books and educational software,” according to the press release.

 

Lillian Vernon sells specialty household, gardening, kitchen and children’s products.

 

This is the second AOL Time Warner spinout to a private equity firm in less than two months. The conglomerate, which changed its name to Time Warner following a disastrous merger between America Online and Time Warner, in late November announced the $2.6 billion cash sale of its Warner Music Group to a consortium led by Boston buyout kingpin Thomas H. Lee Partners and including Bain Capital and media and telecom specialist Providence Equity Partners. That deal also includes capital and management services from Edgar Bronfman Jr., scion of Canada’s Seagram liquor empire who sold the family business to invest in France’s ill-fated Vivendi media business.

 

Ripplewood has also made a name for itself in Japan, where it owns industrial assets as well as Long Term Credit Bank of Japan, which it bought in 1999 to much fanfare.