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VARIETY OWNER IN LEAD FOR ROLLING STONE

The owner of Variety and Deadline has emerged as the front-runner for Jann Wenner’s 51% share of Rolling Stone, the New York Post reported.

Jay Penske’s Penske Media has either edged out or interest has faded among the other contenders: Billboard/Hollywood Reporter owner Todd Boehly’s Eldridge Industries, Playboy’s Rizvi Traverse and a consortium led by James Dolan and Irving Azoff .

BandLab, which purchased a 49% stake in Rolling Stone 14 months ago for $40m, is also in the running.

Penske, who ventured into entertainment news in 2009 by purchasing Deadline Hollywood from founder Nikki Finke before snapping up a collection of entertainment blogs, acquired Variety in 2012 at the fire sale price of $25m. The former daily newspaper has been since transformed into a weekly and, earlier this year, after going decades with no full-time music reporting staff, bulked up the category with new hires and freelancers.

Penske has been on a buying of late, acquiring FashInvest, which covers fashion, tech and consumer goods, and Sourcing Journal, a trade for the manufacturing industries. Penske also owns Fairchild Media, publisher of WWD, FN and Beauty, Inc.

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