FORTUNE Sells to Thai Businessman for $150 Million


For generations, a sign of business success was appearing on the cover of Fortune magazine.

Today, the truest symbol may be to own the publication outright.

Des Moines-based publisher Meredith announced on Friday that it has agreed to sell Fortune for $150 million to Fortune Media Group Holdings Limited, wholly owned by Chatchaval Jiaravanon, son of Sumet Jiaravanon, executive chairman of Thailand’s biggest conglomerate, Charoen Pokphand Group.

The transaction, a personal investment for Jiaravanon, is expected to close in 2018.

Meredith picked up 88-year-old Fortune as part of its $1.8 billion acquisition of New York giant Time Inc. in January. Two months later, it announced that it would sell some of the oldest brands in Time Inc’s portfolio: Time, Fortune, Money, and Sports Illustrated. It sold Time to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne in September for $190 million.

The Charoen Pokphand Group, or C.P. Group, is a Bangkok-based conglomerate with businesses in telecommunications, food, retail, automotive, finance, and pharmaceuticals. The organization is owned by the Chearavanont/Jiaravanon family and known for its CP All chain of convenience stores in Thailand as well as True Corp., which owns Thailand’s largest TV and Internet provider.

Jiaravanon says he intends to increase investment in Fortune’s “digital capabilities, geographic expansion, and editorial talent as part of a strategy to become the premium business content provider worldwide.”

“Our vision is to establish Fortune as the world’s leading business media brand, with an always-on reach and global relevance,” he said in a statement. “The demand for high quality business information is growing, and with further committed investment in technology and brilliant journalism, we believe the outlook for further profitable growth is excellent both for the publication and the events business.”

Fortune is known for its franchises including the Fortune 500, 100 Best Companies to Work For, Most Powerful Women, World’s Most Admired Companies, and 40 Under 40, among others. It hosts a series of annual conferences including its Global Forum, Most Powerful Women Summit, Brainstorm Tech and Health conferences, and CEO Initiative.

Clifton Leaf will remain editor-in-chief of the publication. “I am very excited for this new era in Fortune’s distinguished 88-year-old history,” he says. “The global story of business has never been more compelling than it is today, and our commitment to telling that story in all of its rich complexity and nuance has never been stronger.”

Alan Murray will remain its president and become CEO. “I am pleased that we have found an owner for Fortune who believes in our mission, values our editorial independence, wants to invest in our journalism, and thinks Fortune can be the leading brand providing business insight and information around the world,” he said in a statement. “Watch this space: We will be doing big things in the future.”

As with its Time divestiture, Meredith will provide short-term business continuity services to Fortune and has entered a multi-year agreement with Jiaravanon to provide services including corporate sales, consumer marketing, subscription fulfillment, paper purchasing and printing.

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