24/09/2021

THAILAND DAILY

NEWSPAPER / MAGAZINE / PUBLISHER

forbes-to-go-public-with-help-from-asian-investors

Forbes to go public with help from Asian investors

Forbes Global Media Holdings, the privately-held business media firm known for its rankings of the world’s weathiest and upwardly mobile leaders, has agreed to a deal that will see it become a publicly traded company.

In a merger agreement with special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Magnum Opus (NYSE: OPA), Forbes is valued at approximately $630 million and will raise approximately $600 million, with $200 million coming from Magnum Opus’ trust account and another $400 million raised from a private placement of shares sold to funds and accounts managed by institutional investors. The company will eventually be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ‘FRBS’ when the deal closes late in the fourth quarter of 2021 or early first quarter of 2022.

Last June, digital media comapny BuzzFeed reached a similar deal to go public via a SPAC, while reports have linked other media companies including Vice Media to such potential mergers. 

The current Forbes management team, led by CEO Mike Federle will continue to run the company after the deal, but new independent members will be added to its board of directors, whom the company says will reflect its core values around diversity and inclusion. 

Forbes says the transaction will deepen its digital transformation efforts while looking for other growth opportunities and maximising the strength of its iconic global brand. The company says it wants to better leverage data and technology to increase paid content revenue.

“The transaction will help Forbes maximize its brand and enterprise values and use its proprietary technology stack and analytics to convert readers into long-term, engaged users of the platform, including through memberships and recurring subscriptions to premium content and highly targeted product offerings,” the company said in a release. 

“The Forbes platform is defined by high-quality, high-impact journalism, product offerings and a loyal user base,” said Jonathan Lin, chairman and CEO of Magnum Opus. “Forbes has expansive reach and is successfully broadening and deepening engagement through data-informed content curation that delivers what each Forbes user cares most about. The strategy fits perfectly with Magnum Opus’ strategy to support enterprises leveraging digitalization to craft more tailored user experiences, and big data analytics to create a positive feedback loop and multiple touchpoints with consumers.”

Potential for more Asian involvement

Magnum Opus itself is held by Lin’s investment firm L2 Capital, with offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Earlier in the year, the SPAC had stated “it intends to search globally for a target with operations or prospectus focusing on global consumer, technology or media sectors with disruptive growth potential through the use of technology that can benefit from operations in Asia…. It also aims to identify proven business models that can be tailored to the Asian market and benefit from accelerated growth.”

Forbes had sold a majority stake to Hong-Kong based Integrated Whale Media Investments back in 2014, led by executive chairman TC Yam.  In the new deal’s announcement, Yam said his firm is “happy to remain involved as a significant investor,” while congratulating Forbes’ management team on delivering record annual returns following its digital transformation. 

Forbes says its brand reaches more than 150 million people worldwide through its journalism, live events, custom marketing programs and 45 licensed local editions covering 76 countries. Its annual Billionaires and Celebrities List and ’30 Under 30′ rankings are popular in China as well as globally.

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