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November 12, 2010 11:22 AM

Skadden Advises Daily Beast on Merger with Newsweek

Posted by Brian Baxter

After two months of negotiations that were thought to have ended without a deal, the owners of Newsweek magazine and The Daily Beast Web site have announced they have come to an agreement and will merge. Daily Beast founder Tina Brown, the former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, announced the deal in a column posted on her site Thursday night.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom M&A partner Eileen Nugent, tax partner Steven Matays, and labor and employment practice chair John Furfaro advised Barry Diller's IAC/InterActive on the deal. IAC owns The Daily Beast, which was launched in October 2008. (Nugent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

The firm has a longtime relationship with New York-based IAC, which owns other Web sites, including search engine Ask.com, dating site Match.com, humor site CollegeHumor.com, and the Citysearch guide network. Skadden advised IAC on the $493 million sale of its 30 percent interest in a Japanese TV channel. IAC's general counsel, Gregg Winiarski, is a former Skadden associate.

When Newsweek was sold to Harman in August for a mere $1, the wealthy businessman, who made his fortune as cofounder of the Harman/Kardon acoustics empire, turned to Williams & Connolly partners Robert Barnett, Jerry Shulman, and Philip Ward for counsel. (Barnett was out of the office and unavailable for comment when called on Friday; an official press release announcing the transaction states that Williams & Connolly advised Harman.)

Just last week, Harman called the previous talks with Diller and Brown an "unfortunate dalliance" in an interview with The New York Post, in which he conceded he still had a ways to go in finding an editor in chief for Newsweek. Now he has one.

Brown will assume stewardship of the new publication. Rather than other name combinations that have bounced around this newsroom--NewsBeast, BeastWeek--the newly combined entity will simply be called Newsweek Daily Beast Company. Diller and Harman will jointly own the new venture.

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