Forbes sells minority interest for $250 million

Despite the pessimism over the future of American business magazines- which , as a category, have lost more advertising lately than any other – there is at least one biz-mag, the oldest of all, which still commands financial respect. Forbes, which is almost 100 years old, has just sold a minority interest – for a reported $250 million dollars. True, the investors, a company called Elevation Partners, admit they are more interested in the company’s prospects on the Internet.

In the late 90’s Forbes was one of the first to get involved in the new technology – but was a little early. Now it is hoped they can make up for that.

One of the oddities of Elevation Partners is that one of the leading investors, one of six partners, is Bono the singer and member of the U-2 group. – which doesn’t faze Steve Forbes, the grandson of the founder, who recalls that his father – the renowned Malcolm Forbes who died in 1990 – was a musical aficionado even though his taste ran more to Scottish bagpipes!

Although the magazine has not made a lot of editorial impact in recent years (except perhaps for its annual list of the world richest people), its website has been growing It even outdraws sites such as CNN Money and Business Week Online – although some rivals claim one of the reasons for its success has been because one of its features is called Top Topless Beaches.. One other reason its suggested why Forbes is attractive as an investment is because it is unaligned with any big corporation. One of its rivals Fortune is owned by Time Warner, . Business Week is owned by McGraw Hill, while Conde Nast is expected soon to launch a new magazine to be called Portfolio.

The deal is seen as a boon to Forbes who like many of its competitors has seen its ad income decline by more than 50 per cent in last five years. (Much of this has been attributed to a drop off in auto advertising – a lot of which has gone to television) Steve Forbes, who admits the company has been looking for a partner since 1999, believes that this is he right moment to bring in new partners. Selling out completely was not an option, he insists

Also celebrating a new big investment in her company is Arianna Huffington, the Greek-born former British journalist who just over a year ago launched Huffington Post, a fast expanding news and celebrity oriented web site . It has a roster of top contributors , has just added a new much quoted media section called “Eat The Press” and is now offering online video. A group called Softbank is investing $5 million in the fledgling but growing website.

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