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Forbes Family Exploring Sale of Magazine

Steve Forbes - P 2013
Steve Mack/Getty Images
Chairman and editor-in-chief Steve Forbes

"We're organizing a process to test the waters regarding a sale," president and CEO Mike Perlis said in a memo to staff.

The owners of Forbes magazine are preparing for a potential sale. 

Forbes Media has enlisted Deutsche Bank to field offers for the company, president and CEO Mike Perlis said in a memo to staff. The publisher is looking for a $400 million offer, according to Bloomberg

"As a result of your tremendous work, we have received more than a few 'over the transom' indications of interest to buy Forbes Media," Perlis stated. "The frequency and serious nature of these overtures have brought us to a decision point. We're organizing a process to test the waters regarding a sale of Forbes Media. We have hired Deutsche Bank to represent us, and we expect interest from numerous suitors."

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Forbes Media previously sold a 45 percent stake to private equity firm Elevation Partners in 2006. As recently as last week Perlis had told The New York Times that the publisher wasn't looking to be acquired.

Perlis was hired in 2010 and tasked with initiating "bold moves" at the magazine, as chairman and editor-in-chief Steve Forbes said at the time.

The media company, founded in 1917, has been aggressive in experimenting digitally with sponsored content under chief product officer Lewis DVorkin. It launched BrandVoice, a platform that allows "marketers to join the conversation" on the magazine's website and has driven its digital growth by relying on a large contributor network that has been criticized for lack of editorial oversight. 

A potential sale of the magazine follows the movement of many venerable media brands since August. The Washington Post was sold to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million. Less than a week earlier, the Newsweek brand was unloaded by IAC/InterActive to IBT Media for an undisclosed sum and The New York Times Company announced a sale of The Boston Globe to Red Sox owner John Henry for $70 million.

The full memo from Mike Perlis is below: 

So much has been accomplished recently, and we're very much in the spotlight these days. We're seen as innovators with extraordinary business momentum. This year is expected to mark our best financial performance in the last six years, strengthened by revenue growth in digital as well as licensing and conferences. As a result of your tremendous work, we have received more than a few "over the transom" indications of interest to buy Forbes Media. The frequency and serious nature of these overtures have brought us to a decision point. We're organizing a process to test the waters regarding a sale of Forbes Media. We have hired Deutsche Bank to represent us, and we expect interest from numerous suitors.

I'm proud to say that we've accomplished what no other traditional media company appears to have done: established a huge digital audience by efficiently creating quality content at scale, and we're innovating around new business models to maximize that relationship. In the last three years, our unique visitors to Forbes.com have jumped from 12 million to 26 million, according to comscore worldwide.  Digital revenues are expected to increase over 25% by the end of the year. In print, through September, we continue to be the share of market leader in our competitive set. Our efforts have also focused on diversifying our revenue streams to complement our advertising-based businesses -- and many of our initiatives have come to fruition this year. 

I will share more details about the interest in our company as events unfold; however, I was eager to inform you before you hear about this news elsewhere. If you receive any inquiries from the press, forward them to Mia Carbonell in Corporate Communications. 

We will have an open conversation about our company at our next Town Hall meeting early next year.

Best,

Mike