The company behind the London listings magazine Time Out has secured a £14.2 million private equity investment as part of a deal that will enable it to take full control of its New York edition and launch its brand in 50 cities worldwide.
Tony Elliott, who founded Time Out in London in 1968, said that the deal with Oakley Capital would give the company “proper money” to reduce its debt and expand into new territories and new areas of business.
The company plans to launch new online-only editions and to build up its own business selling tickets directly through its website and offering more online deals to compete with companies such as Groupon. At present, tickets sold on its websites are processed through a third party.
Under the terms of the deal, Oakley has acquired a majority stake in Time Out New York. It follows a similar deal last November in which Oakley acquired a 50 per cent stake in Time Out London from Mr Elliott.
Mr Elliott said that the first phase of Time Out’s expansion overseas would be a series of online-only editions of Time Out, starting in Paris and Berlin. In the past ten years versions of Time Out have appeared in cities from Istanbul to Perth but these are all franchise businesses. The London and New York editions are the only ones run by the company itself.
The Oakley deal marks the culmination of a long and at times difficult journey for Mr Elliott, who had to close Time Out London in 1981 amid an industrial dispute with staff. He then relaunched it.
When he launched Time Out New York in 1995, American media wondered why a market already flooded with its own home-grown listings titles should pay any attention to it. But readers were enthusiastic and now it is regarded as the New York listings “bible”, with a paid-for circulation of 152,000 (compared with less than 60,000 for Time Out London)