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Men's magazine Maxim up for sale; exec says digital revenue up so far this year

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Racy men's magazine Maxim is up for sale.

The magazine's president, Ben Madden, confirmed the start of the sales process on Friday.

The private equity owners of Maxim's parent, Alpha Media Group, have owned the business for more than six years, and that is the usual time for such investors to try to sell, he said.

After some years of decline, revenue at the publication has steadied, he said.

Madden said the company's investment in online video and digital subscriptions is starting to pay off. He noted that digital revenue is up 45 per cent so far this year, compared to a year ago, while print ad revenue is set to rise in the first half.

The magazine now publishes 10 times a year, down from 12 two years ago.

Maxim has struggled along with the rest of the magazine industry, which has seen print ad revenue decline as advertising spending shifted to the Internet and TV.

Last year, the magazine generated $112.1 million in print ad revenue, down 18 per cent from a year earlier, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

It also had a circulation of 2.54 million in the second half of 2012, up 1.4 per cent from 2.51 million a year earlier, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

With more than 259,500 digital copies sold, it was the second-best selling digital magazine after Game Informer, which had 2.3 million.

Madden said that while the magazine is still enamoured with the print product, it has done more to reach its young male audiences online, partly because they tend to be tech-savvy. For example, the company recently launched a video-playing app on the Xbox 360 game console.

"It's really our mandate to be on every platform," he said. "We have to be there first. We don't have the luxury of being there late."

If it sells, it won't be the only magazine company changing hands. Last week, Time Warner Inc. said it was spinning off its Time Inc. magazine business into a separate publicly traded company. Spin-offs often result in a major turnover of a company's shareholders.

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