Back in 2007 Forbes magazine purchased 51 percent of the then-wildly growing website RealClearPolitics.com. Now, in 2014, a Chinese company has purchased a majority position in Forbes itself.
A highly visited site, RealClearPolitics.com was created in Chicago in the year 2000 by John McIntyre and Tom Bevan and grew at an amazing rate, becoming one of the most trafficked political sites on the web. By 2007 Forbes Media took notice and purchased a 51 percent share in the site.
Upon the purchase, Forbes Media decided to let McIntyre and Bevan continue to run the site as they had always done before.
For the last year or so, Forbes itself has been up for sale, and after eight months on the block, this sale was anything but a sure bet as one company after another bowed out of the running. At last the media company found an investor in China.
This week Forbes Media confirmed that it has sold a controlling interest in the company to Hong Kong-based Integrated Asset Management, founded by Tak Cheung Yam. The price tag reportedly tops $300 million.
The Forbes family will hold a minority stake in the 97-year-old company that bears their name.
“This is a major milestone for the company and our family, and we’re pleased to partner with a forward-looking investor group to further drive the evolution and growth of this exceptional company,” current company chief Steve Forbes told the media Friday.
As of now, Steve Forbes, the company’s chairman and editor, and chief executive Steve Perlis will remain with the company.
In a statement, new majority owner Mr. Yam said, “Given the tremendous growth of digital in the past decade, Forbes Media’s future plans include additional Internet and social media expansion projects.”
With over 27.7 million unique visitors, Forbes Media’s websites will now be majority owned by the Chinese company.
However, Steve Forbes went to pains to insist that the magazine and the company’s various websites will retain editorial control here in America.
“To mess with that would undermine the investment,” he said.
Signs that this was a last-ditch effort to save the company were everywhere. The Forbes family has undergone a long campaign of selling off assets in hopes of keeping the nearly 100-year-old company afloat. The family sold out many of its real estate holdings, closed its longtime Greenwich Village headquarters, and even sold off its impressive collection of Fabergé eggs.
Perlis, though, assured employees that there would be no layoffs.
“This is an investment move,” the chief executive said. “The reason it took as long as it did to do the deal was that we were looking for a particular kind of buyer who would understand the tradition of the Forbes brand and an investor [who] would back the family’s and current management’s plan to grow the company.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.