Reiman CEO Touts DM Strengths Amid Reader's Digest Rumors

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Reiman Publications president/CEO Tom Curl would not comment this week on a report that Reader's Digest is trying to buy the company.

"Somebody once said that we produce like publishers and sell like direct marketers," he said.

Reiman, Greendale, WI, publishes 12 magazines focusing on older readers in rural areas. The magazines don't carry advertising pages or rely on newsstand sales. The company also publishes books and a mail-order catalog and operates cooking schools.

The Wall Street Journal said that an attempt to acquire the little-known publisher/cataloger hangs in the balance as Reader's Digest shareholders vie for control of the company. The acquisition of the privately held Reiman Publications for $700 million to $800 million is part of a plan by Reader's Digest chairman/CEO Thomas O. Ryder to strengthen the company, according to the Journal.

The paper also reported that Highfields Capital Management tried to gain control of Reader's Digest from Wallace Reader's Digest Funds last week because it opposes the acquisition. However, Wallace Reader's Digest Funds, which controls 50 percent of Reader's Digest Association Inc.'s voting shares, rejected the proposal.

Reiman's magazine titles include Birds & Blooms with 1.5 million subscribers; Country Discoveries with 335,500 subscribers; Country with 969,200 subscribers; Country Woman with 1 million subscribers; Crafting Traditions with 222,600 subscribers; Farm & Ranch Living with 324,300 subscribers; Light & Tasty with 959,900 subscribers; Quick Cooking with 2.6 million subscribers; Reminisce with 929,800 subscribers; and Taste of Home with 3.3 million subscribers.

In addition, Reiman's Country Store catalog has 472,800 last-12-month mail-order buyers, selling country-themed items such as quilts, dinnerware, candles, seasonal merchandise, bird feeders and garden tools.

Curl said Reiman's readers range in age from an average of 70 for Reminisce to the 30s and 40s for some of the cooking titles. Not all Reiman readers live in rural areas, he said, and many live in some of the nation's most populous counties.

However, the sensibilities of the readers probably are not that of many urbanites, he said.

"The people who take our magazines in New York probably don't read the New Yorker," Curl said. "It's just a different mindset and a different audience."

According to the Journal, Reader's Digest has been interested in acquiring Reiman since 1998, when its founder, Roy Reiman, sold the bulk of the business to investment firm Madison Dearborn Partners Inc., Chicago, for $633 million.

The ad recession has affected Reader's Digest, closing two magazines, Walking and New Choices, in the past six months. The company's stock has dropped 37 percent over the past five years. Reader's Digest circulation stands at 12.5 million.

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