Thai business tycoon buys Fortune magazine for $150 million

Publishing giant Meredith said it has reached a deal to sell Fortune magazine for $150 million to a Thai business tycoon.

The buyer, Chatchaval Jiaravanon, has appointed veteran editorial director Allan Murray to be the president and CEO, Meredith said.

Jiaravanon is affiliated with the Thailand-based conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group, which has holdings in agriculture, telecommunications, retail, pharmaceutical, and finance.

The holding company he formed is called Fortune Media Holdings, is said to be acquiring Fortune as a separate, private enterprise, and the deal is expected to be finalized in calendar 2018.

“He believes in our independence, he’s going to invest in the Fortune brand,” said Murray, reached in Hong Kong where he said he had just had dinner with Jiaravanon.

It marks the second of the so-called big three business titles in the US to be sold to Asian businessmen. Forbes was sold by the Forbes family to businessmen from Asia and Singapore more than a decade ago, with the Forbes family keeping a tiny minority interest. Only Bloomberg Businessweek remains in control of an American media company.

Jiaravanon, who was educated at USC in Los Angeles, said in a statement, “Our vision is to establish Fortune as the world’s leading business media brand.”

The deal surprisingly did not include Money. That title remains on the block along with Sports Illustrated. Meredith said it is in exclusive talks to sell those titles with an announcement expected before the end of the calendar year.

Including the Fortune deal, Meredith has now raised a total of $340 million after selling Time magazine to Salesforce founder Mark Benioff and wife Lynne for $190 million last week.

Meredith was hoping to fetch a combined $500 million from the sale of the four titles that it put on the market in March, shortly after picking them up as part of its $2.8 billion acquisition of Time Inc. in January.

Meredith now appears close to realizing that goal. It would have to fetch another $140 million for SI and Money combined.

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