For­tune mag­a­zine sold for $150M

Pub­li­ca­tion bought by Thai busi­ness­man, plans to in­vest in help­ing it ex­pand

San Antonio Express-News - - BUSINESS - By John J. Ed­wards III

Mered­ith Corp. agreed to sell For­tune mag­a­zine and its re­lated busi­nesses for $150 mil­lion, fur­ther­ing the com­pany’s ef­forts to shed the news-fo­cused brands it ac­quired in buy­ing Time Inc.

The buyer is Thai busi­ness­man Chatchaval Jiar­a­vanon, an owner of the Charoen Pokp­hand Group con­glom­er­ate, Mered­ith said in a state­ment Fri­day. He will own For­tune in a per­sonal ca­pac­ity, con­tin­u­ing a grow­ing trend of wealthy in­vestors snap­ping up ven­er­a­ble jour­nal­ism out­lets. Mered­ith sold Time mag­a­zine in Septem­ber to Sales­force.com Inc. founder Marc Be­nioff and his wife, Lynne, for $190 mil­lion.

“Our vi­sion is to es­tab­lish For­tune as the world’s lead­ing busi­ness me­dia brand, with an al­ways-on reach and global rel­e­vance,” Jiar­a­vanon said in the state­ment.

For­tune was founded in 1930 dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion — a few years af­ter sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion Time — and its For­tune 500 rank­ing of cor­po­ra­tions be­came syn­ony­mous with big busi­ness. For­tune com­petes with Bloomberg News, a unit of Bloomberg LP, in pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial news and in­for­ma­tion.

Alan Mur­ray, For­tune’s pres­i­dent, will con­tinue to lead it with the added ti­tle of chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer. Clifton Leaf will re­main ed­i­tor-in-chief.

For­tune’s new owner has no in­ter­est in ac­tively run­ning the mag­a­zine him­self and plans to pour re­sources into areas that will help the mag­a­zine grow, par­tic­u­larly ex­pand­ing in China, Mur­ray said in an in­ter­view.

For­tune’s sales last year were less than $100 mil­lion and had de­clined in re­cent years as rev­enue from print has been shrink­ing, Mur­ray said. The mag­a­zine is on track to post $10 mil­lion in earn­ings be­fore in­ter­est, taxes, de­pre­ci­a­tion and amor­ti­za­tion this year. More than 60 per­cent of the mag­a­zine’s rev­enue comes from dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing and con­fer­ences.

“The legacy print busi­ness was less than half,” Mur­ray said. “I don’t think that’s true for most legacy me­dia com­pa­nies.”

He de­clined to say whether For­tune will cre­ate an on­line pay­wall to at­tract dig­i­tal sub­scrip­tions, but added that “most of the promis­ing stuff that’s hap­pened in me­dia in the last two years has re­volved around dig­i­tal pay­walls.”

Des Moines, Iowa-based Mered­ith bought Time Inc. ear­lier this year, say­ing it would sell the com­pany’s news and sports brands, Time, For­tune, Sports Il­lus­trated and Money, to fo­cus on fe­male­tar­geted life­style ti­tles that fit bet­ter with Mered­ith’s ex­ist­ing mag­a­zine sta­ble. The com­pany said it would use the For­tune pro­ceeds to pay down debt.

Char­lie Neibergall / As­so­ci­ated Press

Me­dia and pub­lish­ing gi­ant Mered­ith Corp., based in Des Moines, Iowa, says it is sell­ing For­tune mag­a­zine and its re­lated busi­nesses for $150 mil­lion to Thai busi­ness­man Chatchaval Jiar­a­vanon.

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