A "serious buyer" is talking with Time Warner to buy several magazines from it, including People, InStyle and Real Simple, according to a Fortune magazine report.
Des Moines-based Meredith Corp. is the "serious buyer," according to a Wall Street Journal breaking news bulletin released this afternoon.
Wednesday's report cited unnamed people familiar with the matter and comes two weeks after the magazine unit, Time Inc., said it's cutting 6 percent of its global staff of 8,000, or about 500 people.
Companies sometimes lay off workers before selling assets to make them more profitable and attractive to buyers.
Fortune is also owned by Time Inc. and says it might not be part of a sale.
The magazine said the talks are early and may fall apart. It said one of the advisers involved was Chicago merchant bank BDT Capital Partners, which is run by former Goldman Sachs executive Byron Trott.
A Time Warner spokesman declined comment. A message left at BDT Capital was not immediately returned.
Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes told CNBC last week that the company was considering separating Time magazines from the rest of the company but that no decision had been made.
"There's tremendous resilience in the national magazine publishing business, but advertising demand is secularly not so strong. It's down a bit," Bewkes said. "The question of whether we ought to put that into a different frame is one we've been asking."He added that Time Warner officials "at this point have not decided to do something like that. But we will keep investigating that."