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Hong Kong-based investor group buys majority stake in Forbes Media

MUMBAI: Forbes Media, the publisher of popular business magazine Forbes, has decided to sell majority stake in the company to a newly formed Hong Kong-based investor group called Integrated Whale Media Investments (IWM).

While the terms of the transaction have not been disclosed, media reports suggest that the deal is worth more than $300 million. Completion of the transaction is expected to take place this year and is subject to customary closing conditions.

While the Forbes family will retain a significant ownership stake in the company, private equity firm Elevation Partners will fully exit its investment in Forbes Media upon the closure of the deal.

The group is led by Integrated Asset Management (IAM) Asia, which was founded by Tak Cheung Yam, a Hong Kong-based investment company primarily engaged in public and private equity investments, with expertise in telecommunications, finance and technology.

Another significant investor in IWM, Wayne Hsieh is the co-founder of ASUSTeK Computer, one of the world’s leading PC vendors and the No. 1 motherboard manufacturer in the world. He is based in Singapore.

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.

In partnership with IWM, Forbes Media will build on the wide and rapidly expanding appeal of the Forbes brand that today reaches approximately 75 million people worldwide with its business message through print, digital, TV, conferences, research, social and mobile each month.

The group supports Forbes Media’s ongoing transformation into a global media, branding and technology company. Forbes Media is profitable and in 2013, achieved its best financial performance in the last six years.

Forbes Media will retain its operating name and will remain a privately-held, independent company headquartered in the US. Steve Forbes will maintain his role as chairman and editor-in-chief, and current president and CEO Mike Perlis will continue to lead the company’s management team.

Forbes Media’s Asian business will continue to be directed out of Singapore under Forbes Media CEO/Asia Will Adamopoulos.

“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,” said Forbes Media chairman and editor-in-chief Steve Forbes.

The Forbes family will stay actively involved in Forbes Media and will work with the investor group to further increase market share of the existing Forbes Media product lines in media, digital, technology, as well as brand extensions.

“Our partners respect our brand and values, and support our longstanding mission of championing entrepreneurship and free market capitalism through quality, independent business journalism. The best evidence of their commitment to what we stand for is their insistence on the continued involvement of the Forbes family, the current management and our highly talented editorial team. I will remain deeply involved in the future of the company,” added Forbes.

“We are investing in the Forbes brand, history, family involvement and a management team that is successfully transforming the company. 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,” said IAM chairman and founder Tak Cheung Yam.

“Given the tremendous growth of digital in the past decade, Forbes Media’s future plans will include additional internet and social media expansion projects. Together with the Forbes family and the management team, along with the appropriate strategic and financial support, we will find new ways to unlock the value of the Forbes brand.”

“We see enormous potential to extend the Forbes brand, building on its innovation and the solid foundation of a media company known for excellence in business journalism with an extensive print and digital footprint and a diverse array of branded products,” said ASUSTeK Computer co-founder Wayne Hsieh.

“This significant investment in the company is a strong endorsement of the global strength of our brand, as well as our progress and innovative plans for continued growth,” said Forbes Media president and CEO Mike Perlis.

“We are combining the best of our historic legacy with an infusion of new resources, capabilities and expertise to accelerate Forbes Media’s global growth. We already work with members of IWM’s management through our existing real estate and financial services lines of business. Our partners fully appreciate the power of the Forbes brand to attract new audiences in diverse markets all over the world—a foundation we look forward to building on together.”

Forbes Media has built a diversified portfolio of assets, while maximising the power of the Forbes brand across multiple categories, including media, digital, technology and branded products.

In the US, Forbes magazine, the iconic front door to the Forbes brand, has increased its readership to more than six million. Internationally, since 2008, Forbes has expanded its publishing activities from nine licensed local editions around the world to 36, covering 63 countries in 21 different languages including one in India in partnership with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd-owned Network18.

Forbes’ digital footprint has exponentially broadened as Forbes.com has transformed from a web site to a robust publishing platform. Currently, Forbes has 24 international web sites. The company’s growth has also been fuelled by new brand extensions, including conferences, real estate, education, financial services and technology licence agreements.

“Elevation has been a great partner with Forbes Media over the past eight years. This collaboration has enabled us to position ourselves for the next phase of growth that we see ahead with IWM,” added Steve Forbes.