Forbes Media reportedly in talks to sell to venture firm for $650M

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Forbes Media, owned by Asian investors since 2014, is in exclusive talks to sell itself for $650 million to an investment group led by Michael Moe, head of merchant bank GSV.

Bloomberg on Thursday reported that Moe’s consortium has an exclusivity window for about one month. The report, which cited an anonymous source, followed earlier reports by Reuters that discussions about the sale were underway.

Moe, a one-time research analyst at Merrill Lynch who earlier founded ThinkEquity Partners, has specialized in investments in education. His GSV firm runs an MBA program for entrepreneurs.

He has also written several books including “Finding the Next Starbucks,” published by Penguin, and “Global Silicon Valley,” by Hachette. He did not return a call seeking comment.

A Forbes spokesperson was quoted by Bloomberg as saying, “We have no comment, but investors have consistently shown interest in Forbes, which has produced three years of record results. 2021 is shaping up as a strong year as well.”

The flagship money magazine founded by B.C. Forbes 104 years ago, which was once a fortnightly packed with thousands of ad pages a year, only appears six times a year now. But the company has diversified and digital now accounts for most of its income. It also hosts sponsored events such as the Forbes 30 under 30 confab.

Still the high price surprised some observers coming after a year in which many advertisers halted ads and events and conferences were forced to go virtual.

Forbes’ valuation was pegged at $475 million in 2014 when two Asian investors formed Integrated Whale Media and bought a majority stake from the Forbes family and Elevation Partners, the investment group that counts U2 front man Bono as one of its principals.

Steve Forbes, the oldest of four Forbes brothers who once rain the company, remained active as chairman after the sale to Integrated Whale Media. It’s unclear if Steve Forbes would stay involved if the current talks yield another ownership change.

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