Forbes Media to sell majority stake to Hong Kong investor group

Forbes Media will sell a majority stake of itself to a Hong Kong-based investor group, the company said Friday. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but it is reported that the transaction values Forbes Media at $475 million.

Rajanish Kakade/AP/File
Forbes Media Chairman and CEO Steve Forbes arrives for a charity event for the Make a Wish foundation, in Mumbai, India, Oct. 10, 2009.

Forbes Media will sell a majority stake in itself to a Hong Kong-based investor group, the company said in a statement Friday. 

The deal concludes a process that began in late November 2013, when the Forbes family was looking into selling but saw interest drop down over time. Forbes did not disclose the terms, but the New York Times cites a person close to the deal saying the transaction values Forbes Media at $475 million. The transaction is expected to be completed this year.

The investor group, Integrated Whale Media Investments, is made up of several Asian investors. The Forbes family will still have a significant, active stake in the company and will continue to  work with the new investor group. Forbes’ patriarch Steve Forbes will maintain his role as chairman and editor-in-chief, and CEO Mike Perlis will keep his position as well.

“This is a major milestone for the company and our family, and we’re pleased to partner with a forward-looking investor group to further drive the evolution and growth of this exceptional company,” Mr. Forbes said in a statement.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Forbes added that the sale allows the company to move forward.

“Companies should always remind themselves what their purpose is,” he said. “The buyers are entrepreneurs, and they understand entrepreneurial capitalism, and they have a vested self-interest in not messing with the editorial.”

With this deal, Elevation Partners will also shed its 45 percent stake in Forbes Media. The eight-year partnership has positioned Forbes Media for the future with Integrated Whale Media, Forbes says.

Since 2008, Forbes Media expanded publishing activities from 9 licensed local editions around the world to 36. The US edition of Forbes magazine has increased its circulation to more than 6 million readers.

Forbes’ sale is part of a growing media trend –  founding families selling stakes or whole publications. For example, the Bancroft family sold the Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch in 2007, and the Graham family sold the Washington Post to Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos in 2013. Still, many of these media families retain ownership and wealth, such as the Hearst family with the Hearst Corp. and the Newhouse family with Conde Nast Inc.

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