Meredith Corp. on Friday agreed to sell Fortune Magazine to Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon for $150 million.
Fortune is one of several magazines that Meredith has been trying to unload since buying Time Inc. earlier this year, but two earlier sets of negotiations fell through.One of them was with Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, who ultimately bought Time magazine.Another was with a Wall Street CEO, acting in an individual capacity, whose board was worried about possible conflicts of interest.
Alan Murray, the chief content officer of Time Inc. who will remain with Fortune as CEO said, “A mutual acquaintance introduced me to [Jiaravanon] just about a month ago, and the actual deal was put together in just 21 days. He’s part of the largest conglomerate in Thailand, but this is an investment he’s making on his own because he thinks Fortune can be turned into a big, global business news powerhouse.”
This was a very high price to pay, particularly given that a source says Fortune generated around $10 million in 2017 EBITDA, and there are obviously better ways to make money than by purchasing a legacy media business.
But Fortune is one of perhaps only two business brands with high name recognition in both the U.S. and Asia: Fortune publishes its own China edition, and regularly hosts conferences there, so it makes sense for a non-media tycoon who wants a mantle-piece acquisition without needing to first learn the entire business.
Meredith still owns Sports Illustrated and People magazines among those it acquired in the $1.8 billion Time deal, along with its own fashion and lifestyle brands including Better Homes & Gardens.