(Adds background, share price)
By Liana B. Baker
SAN FRANCISCO, March 8 (Reuters) - An investor group led by former music executive Edgar Bronfman Jr has dropped out of bidding for Time Inc, the publisher of People and Sports Illustrated magazines, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The group, which also included media executive Ynon Kreiz, concluded that the price Time was asking was too high considering the turnaround needed to return the company to revenue growth, the person said, asking not to be named because the matter is private.
The investor group had made an $18 per share bid for Time Inc late last year, an unsolicited offer that was rejected by Time's board.
Shares of Time Inc closed trading at $18.75 per share Wednesday.
A representative for the investor group declined to comment while Time could not immediately be reached for comment.
Time has been exploring its strategic alternatives in recent weeks and has been working with investment banks on fielding indications of interest from potential buyers, according to separate sources familiar with the matter.
It could not be learned whether Meredith Corp, which explored a combination with Time in 2014, was interested in buying the company. Meredith could not be reached for comment.
Time Inc was spun off from Time Warner Inc two and a half years ago, following a wider trend in media of hiving off slower growth print assets. Since it became an independent company, Time has struggled like many publishers to offset declines in print ad sales as advertisers put their dollars toward other media.
The company has made attempts to expand beyond its print roots by going on a shopping spree for digital acquisitions such as Viant Technology, a New York-based marketing firm that owns Myspace, an early social media company. It has also shuffled its management after activist investor Jana Partners revealed a 5 percent stake in the company.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that Bronfman's investor group had walked away on Wednesday. (Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler)