IPC has issued a statement to staff telling them to expect further speculation about a possible takeover. The move follows reports in The Wall Street Journal this week that IPC has been the subject of a takeover bid by AOL Time Warner.
Time Inc, the magazine arm of Time Warner, is thought to have been interested in acquiring IPC but talks are believed to have broken down after they failed to agree a price.
In an internal e-mail to staff, IPC chairman David Arculus said: "This kind of story will crop up fairly frequently because we are owned by a venture capitalist, Cinven, which is three years into what was always going to be an ownership term of between three and five years."
Although he refused to confirm or deny the reports, he told staff they should "take satisfaction" that the quality of the business was such that it was judged by commentators to be "attractive" to the world’s leading media group.
Cinven acquired a 56 per cent stake in IPC through an £860m management buyout from Reed Elsevier in 1998. Although the price is now said to range between £850m and £1.1bn, Cinven is not expected to accept less than £1.1bn.
IPC previously held talks with cable operator Telewest, which, it is understood, fell through due to the price.
Despite the speculation, journalists were unenthusiastic. One IPC staffer said: "People don’t get excited about this sort of rumour because it happens so often – it’s just a false scare."
By Ruth Addicott