Forbes, the media business known for chronicling the fortunes of the ultra-rich, has abandoned plans to list through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company as investor interest in the market has cooled significantly, according to people familiar with the matter.
The New York-based media company announced it was going public in August last year via a Spac based in Hong Kong and founded by a former portfolio manager at Steve Cohen’s hedge fund Point72 Asset Management.
Magnum Opus Acquisition, backed by the private investment firm L2 Capital, agreed to take Forbes public at a $630mn valuation. It was set to infuse $145mn of fresh cash into the magazine.
However, Spacs have fallen out of favour over the past year as regulators crack down on the exuberance associated with the asset class, including rosy projections and lucrative incentives for backers as well as advisers.
Integrated Whale Media, the Hong Kong-based investor group, purchased a controlling interest in the company from the Forbes family and venture capital firm Elevation Partners at a $475mn valuation in 2014, leaving the Forbes family with a minority stake. Since then, Integrated Whale Media has made on-and-off attempts to exit its investment.
Founded by Bertie Charles Forbes more than a century ago, Forbes is best known for its billionaires list, and its data is licensed by economists studying wealth inequality.
In recent years, the magazine, which publishes eight print issues a year, has generated the bulk of its revenues from its website and events such as its popular 30 Under 30 conferences, held in the US, Europe and Africa.
Forbes’s revenues jumped 40 per cent last year, bolstered by a strong rebound in digital advertising as companies dramatically increased marketing budgets to capture a post-pandemic recovery in consumer spending. The 104-year-old magazine also reported a $38mn net profit.
In February, Binance announced a $200mn investment in the Forbes Spac deal. The cryptocurrency exchange had aimed to help build Forbes’s coverage of digital assets with an agreement to have two of its executives join the magazine’s board of directors.
Forbes had expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “FRBS”.