Forbes controlling interest sold to Hong Kong investors

A controlling interest in Forbes, the iconic U.S. business publication that follows the money, is to be sold to a group of Hong Kong investors.

The Forbes family put the influential magazine and its partner publications up for sale in November, following the march of powerful media families into more lucrative fields.

The buyer is Hong Kong-based investor group Integrated Whale Media Investments, founded by Toronto-educated investor Tak Cheung Yam, chair of Fornton Group Ltd. and including Singapore-based Wayne Hsieh, co-founder of Asustek Computer Inc.

The Forbes family had sold a 45 per cent stake in the company to venture capital firm Elevation Partners in 2006. Elevation Partners, whose investors include Bono, will sell its stake as part of this deal.

Terms of the transaction were not revealed, but a source said it valued Forbes Media LLC at $475 million. Forbes magazine is known for its lists of the rich and powerful and the group includes includes its digital properties, conferences and research, 

“The investor group will provide capital, as well as financial and operational expertise, and intends to leverage its international relationships to strategically enlarge Forbes Media’s reach on a global scale,” family head Steve Forbes said.

Steve Forbes still editor

Steve Forbes will remain as chairman and editor-in-chief and Mike Perlis, the current CEO, will continue to lead the company. The family said it still maintains a “significant” interest in the media group.

Although the Forbes group is still profitable, with powerful digital potential, it has suffered like most journalism dynasties from falling ad sales and competition in the digital sphere.

Other powerful American media families have already sold off their holdings, among them the Chandlers, who owned the Los Angeles Times until 2000, selling it to Tribune; the Bancrofts, who sold the Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch; and the Graham family, who sold the Washington Post to Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos.

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