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Meredith sells Sports Illustrated to Authentic Brands to further digital push

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(Reuters) - Media company Meredith Corp said on Monday it has agreed to sell Sports Illustrated to U.S-based entertainment company Authentic Brands Group LLC for $110 million (86.8 million pounds), as it looks to scale its digital media business.

The companies also formed a strategic partnership to build a global media platform and develop broad-based licensing programs under the Sports Illustrated brand that will include product, original content and live events.

The purchase includes New York-headquartered Authentic Brands getting the intellectual property of the iconic magazine that will comprise of Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated Kids, Sportsperson of the Year, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, SI and SI TV, the companies said in a statement.

"As one of the most iconic brands in sports media, SI is a cultural centrepiece with massive opportunities for growth across its burgeoning digital, TV and social platforms and industry-leading print magazine," Authentic Brands Chief Executive Jamie Salter said in the statement.

Authentic Brands would take on the marketing, business development and licensing functions for the Sports Illustrated intellectual property and brand, which has over 120 million consumers, while the print magazine and would continue to function independently under Meredith and Editor-in-Chief Chris Stone and Publisher Danny Lee, the companies said.

Meredith National Media Group President Jon Werther said the company wants to fully integrate Sports Illustrated's print and digital products into Meredith's operations.

Meredith in turn will pay ABG a licensing fee to operate them for a minimum of two years.

Meredith, which acquired Sports Illustrated magazine as part of its $1.84 billion acquisition of Time Inc, had hired advisers to explore its sale along with considering options for Time, Fortune and Money magazines, as the company sees these titles as not playing to its core strength in women's magazines.

FanSided digital platform, which Meredith is currently in the process of selling, is not part of the deal, the statement added.

Houlihan Lokey acted as Meredith's financial advisor in the agreement.

(Reporting by Sathvik N in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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