Wyndham Destinations buys Travel + Leisure for $100M

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Wyndham Destinations, an Orlando, Fla.-based timeshare resort company, has acquired Travel + Leisure from publishing giant Meredith in a $100 million deal.

The resort company owns 230 timeshare resorts and runs 18 travel clubs. Meredith will continue to operate the media properties under a long term-licensing deal as the company uses it to enhance its travel club relationships.

“Over the past 18 months, we have laid the foundation to expand our footprint beyond our core vacation ownership business, and today we add one of the most trusted and influential brands in travel through the acquisition of Travel + Leisure,” said Michael D. Brown, president and chief executive officer of Wyndham Destinations. “This iconic brand, along with its authoritative content and wide audience, will help accelerate and amplify the growth of new capital-light travel businesses and services, as we take the next step in expanding our reach within the global leisure travel industry.”

The deal comes as the travel industry has been decimated worldwide by the coronavirus pandemic and appears to be a bet on a swift revival once the crisis is lifted.

Publicly traded Wyndham Destinations said it intends to change the name of its company to the Travel + Leisure Co. and trade on the NYSE under the TNL symbol starting in mid-February.

Meredith will receive $35 million in cash right away with the bulk of the remaining $65 million paid through 2024. Wyndham and Meredith said that the media magazine and digital assets will be operated by Meredith for 30 years, royalty-free under a renewable licensing deal.

The magazine and website staffers will continue as Meredith employees and editor-in-chief Jacqui Gifford will remain at the helm.

Travel + Leisure was originally started by American Express, which operated it in conjunction with Food & Wine, Departures and other titles as a way to reach high-income readers who would presumably be using their AmEx cards. After 20 years of Time Inc. operating the magazines under a licensing deal, the five AmEx Publishing titles were sold outright to Time Inc. in 2013 and then went with the other Time Inc. titles in the company’s $2.8 billion acquisition by Meredith that was finalized in January 2018.

It is the latest title from the old Time Inc. empire that has been sold off by Meredith. Past deals included the sale of Time magazine to Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce, and his wife Lynne Benioff for $190 million, the sale of Sports Illustrated to Authentic Brands Group for $110 million, the sale of Fortune for $150 million to Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon and the sale of the Money.com name to a tech start-up Ad Practioners LLC based in Puerto Rico.

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