Sun, Nov 17, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Forbes to be market tested

DWINDLING PROFITS:After years of decline after the advent of the online press, Forbes tried a move into digital publishing, but now it is to try to sell the brand


Forbes Media LLC, famous for tracking the wealth of billionaires across the globe, will now get to see how much its 96-year-old brand, dented by the rise of digital media, might fetch in the marketplace.

The New York-based publisher of Forbes magazine and hired Deutsche Bank AG to examine a sale after receiving interest from potential buyers, according to a memo sent to employees by chief executive officer Mike Perlis.

The announcement follows years of dwindling profits as the founding Forbes family, a pioneer in business journalism, tried to stabilize its fortune by selling a stake in 2006, raising money through asset sales including its Manhattan headquarters building, and moving aggressively into digital publishing.

While Forbes is seeking at least US$400 million in a sale, according to a person familiar with the matter, the company will struggle to land more than US$200 million, another person said. The people asked not to be identified discussing a private matter.

Among potential buyers are billionaires who have been enamored of Forbes ever since it began ranking the world’s rich, according to Stewart Pinkerton, who wrote about the family in his 2011 book The Fall of the House of Forbes.

“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,” he said in an interview.

Billionaires have snapped up other well-known media properties this year. Inc founder Jeff Bezos acquired the Washington Post for US$250 million, and Boston Red Sox owner John Henry paid US$70 million for the Boston Globe.

B.C. Forbes founded the namesake magazine in 1917 and it prospered under his son Malcolm, becoming a champion of capitalism and a showcase for American wealth — including of Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, B.C.’s grandson, who ascended to president and CEO of Forbes and editor-in-chief of the magazine in 1990. He twice ran unsuccessfully for US president as a Republican candidate in the 1996 and 2000 primaries.

While the company prospered during the dotcom boom, the subsequent bust in 2000 and migration of advertising from print to online sites slammed its finances.

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