Time Out founder Tony Elliott sells half business

THE founder of Time Out, Tony Elliott, has sold half of the business to private equity house Oakley Capital in a bid to sweep away debts and allow online expansion.

The deal is said to value the publisher at 20 million, and will clear debts run up to keep the business afloat during the last two years of the economic downturn. Elliott, who set up Time Out 42 years ago as a London cultural listings guide, said the agreement would help kickstart a "hugely successful worldwide digital journey". The magazine has 36 versions around the world, though most are operated under licence and not owned by Elliott.

The publisher also produces 22 travel magazines, plus guides to about 50 cities.

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Time Out will now focus on the production of online versions of its city guides, a venture the business was previously unable to afford. Its online offering currently attracts about 7.5 million unique users per month, up 38 per cent year-on-year.