The Walt Disney Company is about to make a 650 percent profit on its stake in Us Weekly, selling it back to Wenner Media for $300 million after acquiring it from Wenner in 2001 for $40 million.
Disney revealed the planned sale of its one-half interest in Us Weekly yesterday, almost in passing, during a conference call with financial analysts. Thomas O. Staggs, Disney’s chief financial officer, said the company wanted to concentrate on its core assets and had made ”an outstanding return” on its investment.
Jann Wenner, chairman of Wenner Media, had originally sought out Disney as a partner to help pay for the transition of the magazine from a monthly to a weekly — a move that has made Us Weekly one of the success stories of the magazine industry. Its circulation has reached 1.75 million, growing 7 percent in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year.
”Disney provided crucial financial, moral and public backing when a lot of people questioned the wisdom of the whole thing,” Mr. Wenner said in an interview.