Hearst acquires Rodale magazine, book businesses
Hearst has agreed to acquire the magazine and book businesses of Rodale Inc., based in Emmaus and New York.
The announcement was made Oct. 18 by Hearst President and CEO Steven R. Swartz, Rodale CEO Maria Rodale and Hearst Magazines President David Carey. The deal is expected to close in early 2018 after government approvals are received. Terms have not been disclosed.
According to the Hearst announcement, “Upon completion of the acquisition, Rodale’s multiplatform content business will be managed by Hearst Magazines, a unit of Hearst with more than 300 editions and websites around the world, including 20 titles in the U.S.”
“Maria Rodale has grown her family’s business into a peerless authority that reaches an enormous audience. Hearst and Rodale are already publishing partners around the world, including the U.K., the Netherlands and Japan, and we’ve seen firsthand how the content resonates. We are pleased to add them and all of Rodale’s brands to our vibrant and varied global portfolio, providing readers increasingly important health and wellness space,” Carey said.
Rodale publishes health and wellness lifestyle brands, including “Men’s Health,” “Women’s Health,” “Prevention,” “Rodale’s Organic Life,” “Runners World” and “Bicycling.” Rodale books include former vice president Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s “Onward” and Dave Asprey’s “The Bulletproof Diet.” Rodale’s series include “Thug Kitchen,” “Wheat Belly” and “The South Beach Diet.”
“We have a long-standing respect for Hearst’s commitment to connecting consumers with imaginative, engaging content across an ever-diversifying choice of platforms, technologies and experiences around the world,” Maria Rodale said. “We believe our exceptional brands, businesses and employees will thrive in this culture of innovation, and we are confident that Hearst’s stewardship will continue to grow the passionate and purpose-driven communities that Rodale has built over the past 70 years.”
Financial adviser to Rodale in its sale was Allen & Company LLC, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz acted as legal adviser.
Rodale’s business dates back to 1930 when J.I. Rodale established a publishing business in Emmaus.
In 1937, Rodale Press published its first major book, “Verb-Finder,” edited by Professor Kingsbury M. Badger of Muhlenberg College.
In 1940, J.I. and Anna Rodale bought a farm in Emmaus and became acquainted with and excited about Sir Albert Howard’s ideas on the connection between soil and earth. The farm became dedicated to early organic research, according to the Rodale website. The Rodale Organic Farm is a 40-acre certified organic farm and arboretum.
In 1942, J.I. Rodale published “Organic Farming and Gardening.”
In 1950, “Prevention” began, entirely about polio, attracting 50,000 subscribers. In 1952, “Prevention” was one of the first to report on the connection between smoking and lung cancer.
J.I. Rodale died in 1971 of a heart attack in New York. His son Bob Rodale assumed the role of chairman and chief executive officer.
Maria Rodale joined the family business in 1987. She joined the board in 1991.
In 1990, Bob Rodale, 60, was killed in an automobile accident in Moscow. His wife, Ardath, became chairwoman of the company. Ardath died in 2009 at age 81.
Rodale began its international expansion in 1993 into the United Kingdom, South Africa and Germany.
In 2001, Rodale opened a child care center for children of employees.
Rodale’s international expansion included Singapore, Malaysia, Greece, Poland and China in 2003.
In 2006, Rodale was named Publishing Company of the Year by Advertising Age.
Maria Rodale was elected chairman of the board in 2007. She was named chief executive officer of the company in 2009. Maria is also co-chair of the board at Rodale Institute. She is the third generation to lead the company.
Maria Rodale held a company meeting Oct. 19 to talk to employees.
There is no word yet on the remaining 16 parcels of land still owned by Rodale.
A spokesman for Hearst, Paul Luthringer, said, “Until the transaction is approved, which is expected in January (2018), Rodale continues to operate its businesses.”
Luthringer also confirmed Hearst will retain a presence in Emmaus.