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Forbes plans $630m public listing in SPAC merger

Forbes is seeking new revenue streams

One of the oldest media outlets in the US, Forbes magazine, will go public through a merger of its publisher with a Hong Kong based acquisition vehicle.

The deal with Magnum Opus Acquisition values the combined entity at $630 million and is seen as the latest example of media groups catching the boom of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).

Magnum Opus Acquisition is a SPAC led by Jonathan Lin, a former executive at billionaire Steven Cohen’s Point72, reports the Reuters news bureau.

The merger will allow the business news outlet to invest further in building consumer-focused products as the company reduces reliance on media revenue, Forbes chief executive Mike Federle said in an interview following the announcement.

As print revenue slides, Forbes has been leveraging its brand and reader base to build income through other streams such as education and e-commerce.

“We’ve created this audience and business scale with 150 million people. This funding will allow us to create bespoke products that address these different industry cohorts as we focus on direct-to-consumer conversion,” said Federle.

Forbes was founded in 1917 by BC Forbes, and his family retains a minority share. The magazine is led by his grandson, Steve Forbes, currently chairman and editor-in-chief, who made failed runs for US president in 1996 and 2000 in the Republican primary.

The Forbes company was valued at $475 million when Hong Kong-based investor group Integrated Whale Media Investments bought a majority stake in 2014.

Springer buys Politico

News of the merger came as German publisher Axel Springer said it will acquire US political news website Politico in a deal said to be worth more than $1 billion.

The companies announced the deal yesterday but did not disclose the terms.

It marked the biggest acquisition for Axel Springer which is building a global network of digital news operations.

The deal, in which Springer will also buy the remaining 50% share of its joint venture Politico Europe, follows its 2015 deal to buy US-based Business Insider.

Politico was founded ahead of the 2008 US presidential elections by former Washington Post staff.

Springer’s portfolio of news outlets includes Bild and Welt and spreads across more than 40 countries.

US private equity investor KKR owns just under half 48% of Springer.

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