Forbes Media is working with Deutsche Bank AG to explore a possible sale of the company following a spike of interest from potential buyers. Will it eventually be an investor from overseas?
Update July 19, 2014: Integrated Whale Media Investments has bought a majority stake in Forbes Media.
The 96-year old brand suffered greatly because of digital publishing. In 2006 the company had to raise money by selling its HQ building in Manhattan.
It then focused on entering the digital publishing industry in a big way.
Forbes is seeking $400 million. However, according to people familiar with the matter, the company may struggle to even find an offer of more than $200 million.
Potential buyers include those who have been listed in the Forbes richest people in the world list.
Stewart Pinkerton, who wrote a book called “The Fall of the House of Forbes”, said:
“The thought has always been that some rich guy in the Middle East, or some guy in Hong Kong, or a Russian oligarch would buy it.”
Advertising drifted from print to online sites, which has really made a dent in the value of print magazines.
There have been a number of print properties being sold recently.
The Washington Post was recently bought out by Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million.
In addition, the Boston Globe was bought out by Boston Red Sox owner John Henry for only $70 million.
A brief history of Forbes
Originally founded in 1917 by B.C. Forbes, it was his son, Malcom Forbes, who made the company prosper.
Steve Forbes (Malcom’s son) became CEO of Forbes and editor-in-chief of the magazine in 1990. Steve ran for U.S. president as a Republican candidate twice in the 90s.
In 2006 fashion publisher Conde Nast Inc made a $400 million buyout offer, which was turned down for being too low.
Forty-five percent of the company was sold to Elevation Partners in 2006 for $240 million.
In 2010, Perlis was the first person outside the Forbes family to lead the company.
Entering the digital age
According to data, the company is now profitable with half of its revenue coming from digital ads.
Ken Doctor, a media analyst with Outsell Inc, said:
“As one of the first and leading practitioners of content marketing, or native advertising, however you want to call it, Forbes knows something that other publishers want to know. This is its growth area, but as just a magazine brand you can’t justify that kind of valuation.”