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Media News

Penthouse magazine plans $250 mln IPO

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The owner of Penthouse magazine, once known for its hard-core brand of porn, plans to hit up Wall Street this year for $250 million as it cleans up its act and aims to make a name for itself on the Internet.

U.S. soldiers relax in the back of their Bradley fighting vehicle, with one reading Penthouse magazine, before going on a mission into Samarra, Iraq, December 17, 2003. The owner of Penthouse magazine, once known for its hard-core brand of porn, plans to hit up Wall Street this year for $250 million as it cleans up its act and aims to make a name for itself on the Internet. REUTERS/Stefan Zaklin/POOL

Penthouse Media Group, formerly known as General Media Inc and reorganized in 2004 under financier Marc Bell, said it would file a registration statement in the second quarter to sell common shares in an initial public offering.

Proceeds from the sale, expected to be $250 million, would be directed at paying down debt, the Boca Raton, Florida-based company said in a securities filing on Wednesday.

Bell, chief executive of Penthouse Media, said the company has repositioned the magazine, which had been losing subscribers, along the lines of popular “lad” magazines like Maxim.

“We put the magazine back to its roots, where it used to be,” he told Reuters Wednesday. “We made it a young man’s magazine, slightly edgier pictorially than Playboy.”

The company has been buying up complementary Web businesses as it seeks to compete with Playboy. In December, it purchased Various Inc, the owner of 25 adult and non-adult Web sites, tapped into an audience of millions, Bell said.

Penthouse estimated combined 2007 revenue after the deal of $340 million, putting it on par with Playboy Enterprises Inc’s reported revenue of $339.8 million for the year.

Despite Penthouse magazine’s make-over as a tamer Pet, the company “absolutely plans on leveraging the brand as we move forward” on the Web, Bell said.

“The magazine is where we want it. As far as the Web site, you’ll have to read about it,” he said.

Playboy has also said it would invest more in technology, marketing and content to drive its Web and mobile businesses, especially in Europe, where is sees the best new growth opportunities.

Reporting by Gina Keating; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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