NEW YORK: There's no shortage of eager bidders for the eighteen magazine titles recently put up for sale by Time Warner's Time Incorporated unit.

Among the assets up for grabs are the Parenting Group and most of the Time4 Media titles, such as Popular Science. Field & Stream and Ski.

As the auction entered its second stage last week, eight or so bidders lifted their phones to be greeted by the magic words: "Congratulations! You have won the right to participate in our Grand Prize Draw!"

But contrary to other draws profligately promoted by the magazine industry, Time's offer is emphatically not free.

Unlike the favored octet who made it through to round two of the dollar-fest, many more were disappointed, opening letters headed "Commiserations! Your miserly offer was totally inadequate and unworthy of our further attention. Get lost while we focus on the serious money."

The surviving bidders - thought to include Sweden's Bonnier Magazine Group, former Gruner+Jahr president/ceo J Russell Denson, CurtCo Media and Active Interest Media - have already received the key to an 'electronic data room' providing much of the due diligence data unavailable to first-round bidders.

Although TW chairman/ceo Richard D Parsons doesn't do enigmatic, he made a valiant stab: "There's plenty of interest, but it's too early to call how the game is going to end," he said.

The TW board (and, doubtless, its sale-happy activist shareholder Carl Icahn) wants to see a done deal before the year-end.

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff