A group of
international investors has acquired a majority stake in Forbes Media LLC, including the entire stake of Elevation Media, the previous co-owners of the company along with the Forbes family. The Forbes
family will retain a significant minority stake and will continue to play an active role in the company.
Steve Forbes is staying on as chairman and editor in chief and president, while CEO
Mike Perlis will continue to lead management. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Forbes Media is being sold to Integrated Whale Media Investments, a group of investors
including Integrated Asset Management, a Hong Kong-based investment company with holdings in telecommunications, finance and technology, and Wayne Hsieh, co-founder of ASUSTeK Computer Inc., a PC
vendor and motherboard manufacturer. The investors will provide capital, financial expertise, and international relationships to help enlarge the Forbes footprint globally.
According to the partners, Forbes Media is profitable and posted its best financial results in six years in 2013.
The deal follows a concerted long-term push to reinvent the company
as a digital publisher.
In recent years, digital revenues grew to account for about half its total revenues, thanks in part to its pioneering efforts in native advertising, including Brand
Voice, which allows advertisers to create custom online content that is then prominently displayed on the Forbes site and mobile channels. Forbes
has also embraced programmatic sales, making
online inventory available for public bidding on the company’s own ad exchange, the Forbes Audience Network.
Like other business magazines, the company’s flagship print
publication has suffered big declines in ad pages in recent years. According to figures from the Publishers Information Bureau, Forbes
magazine saw total ad pages decline from 3,460 in 2004
to 1,644 in 2013, for a 52.5% decline over 10 years. More recently, ad pages fell 8.7% from 266 in the first quarter of 2013 to 243 in the first quarter of 2014.
The Forbes family has
been considering a sale for some time. Last year, the family put the entity on the auction block, hoping to attract buyers with a price of $400 million to $500 million, according to The Wall
-- but apparently no attractive offers were forthcoming at that time.