Forbes Media sold a majority stake in the media firm, which was valued in total at $475 million, reviving what had been thought to be diminishing prospects for the firm’s sale.
Forbes seeking capital investments
Forbes was seeking near a $400 million valuation in November 2013, according to a New York Times Dealbook article. After two potential bidders, Axel Springer of Germany and Spice Global Investments of Singapore, backed out, hopes to sell the company waned this spring until Integrated Whale Media investors stepped forward.
The Forbes family, who is said to have received everything they wanted out of the deal, will retain a “significant” ownership stake, a statement said. Steve Forbes with maintain his chairman and editor in chief roles, while Mike Perlis will retain the chief executive role.
Integrated Whale Media Investments, a group that includes the Hong Kong investor Tak Cheung Yam and Wayne Hsieh, the Singaporean co-founder of Asustek Computer, are Forbes’s new controlling shareholders. They replace Elevation Partners, the investment firm that counts Bono of the band U2 among its founding partners, who sold nearly a 45 percent stake in the firm.
Forbes brand recognition in Asia
One reason behind the Asian investment was the reputation the Forbes brand has in Asia as a leading force in capitalism.
“We are investing in the Forbes brand, history, family involvement and a management team that is successfully transforming the company,” Mr. Yam was quoted as saying. “Forbes Media is built around a brand that is synonymous with success and a mission that has tremendous respect and global appeal in established and growing markets around the world. As more market-based economies emerge globally, interest in the information that Forbes provides and the message it delivers resonates with a growing audience.”
“In Asia, where emerging companies are building on free market capitalism, Steve stands for these things in a very powerful way. Steve is revered, frankly,” Perlis was quoted as saying.
“We were looking for a very particular kind of buyer interested in brand and legacy and the strategy the current management team has in place, and we are very pleased to say the long process was worthwhile,” Forbes said in an interview with Dealbook.
While traditional print media companies have struggled, Forbes developed a formula to embrace digital media. While paid print circulation remained consistently in the 920,000 to 930,000 range since 2009, advertising declined nearly 11 percent, the report noted. Against this backdrop, however, the publication’s digital advertising revenue surpassed print in 2013.