Fortune magazine finally finds a buyer, goes for $150 million

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Credit: Fortune Magazine via Instagram

Fortune magazine finally has a new home. Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith Corporation today announced that it's selling the venerable business title for $150 million in cash to Fortune Media Group Holdings Limited, a company wholly owned by Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon, subject to regulatory approval.

Meredith took ownership of Fortune in January as part of its acquisition of Time Inc., but made clear that it intended to divest the magazine, along with Time, Money and Sports Illustrated, as quickly as possible, given that they weren't good fits for Meredith's portfolio of lifestyle brands including Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle.

The Jiaravanon transaction is an echo of what happened with Time; on Oct. 31, Meredith closed on the sale of the newsweekly for $190 million to Marc and Lynne Benioff. Marc Benioff is the founder of Salesforce, but he and his wife personally own Time. Likewise, Meredith notes in a release that Jiaravanon "will own Fortune as a personal private investment." (Sports Illustrated and Money, meanwhile, are still being circled by potential buyers.)

The Bloomberg database of global executives includes a lengthy bio of Jiaravanon, noting that he's "connected to 88 board members in 11 different organizations across 17 different industries." Meredith's own statement sums him up thusly:

Mr. Jiaravanon is affiliated with the Charoen Pokphand Group (www.cpgroupglobal.com), an international conglomerate with businesses in telecom and media; agro-food; retail and distribution; e-commerce and digital; property development; automotive and industrials; finance and investment; and pharmaceutical sectors. Owned by the Chearavanont/Jiaravanon family, the C.P. Group operates public companies such as CP Foods, CP ALL and True Corporation, and multiple private firms. Mr. Jiaravanon is involved in C.P. Group's technology, media and telecom businesses. He serves as a Board Member of True Corporation, a leading public company in Asia with more than $10 billion in assets, $4 billion in revenues, and 23,000 employees.

Tellingly, Meredith describes the transaction as a sale of the "Fortune media brand"—and the word "magazine" doesn't come up until the sixth paragraph of the press release. For decades, Fortune, the print magazine, was a cash cow for Time Inc., but over the past decade or so, the print edition has been scaled back and the brand has put increasing emphasis on digital, its event business and its crossplatform franchises including the Fortune 500 and the World's Most-Admired Companies.

Jiaravanon and Meredith both issued the usual sorts of statements expected in the wake of a transaction like this: "Our vision is to establish Fortune as the world's leading business media brand, with an always-on reach and global relevance," Jiaravanon said. "We're pleased to have found Fortune a great home with Chatchaval Jiaravanon," Meredith President and CEO Tom Harty said.

Clifton Leaf, the magazine's editor-in-chief, is staying on. Alan Murray, the president of Fortune who had also been chief content officer at Time Inc., will become president and CEO of Fortune.

UPDATE: Here's Fortune's own coverage about its sale:

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