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Forbes Sells Majority Stake to Asian Investment Group

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Concluding an auction that had turned notably quiet in recent months, Forbes Media said Friday that overseas group Integrated Whale Media Investments will take a majority stake in the business news organization.

Forbes declined to comment on the price, but a source familiar with the matter said that the enterprise value of the company is $475 million.

Integrated Whale Media includes Hong Kong-based telecommunications, finance and technology investment group Integrated Asset Management (Asia) Ltd. and Wayne Hsieh, the co-founder of Singapore computer circuit make and vendor ASUSTeK Computer Inc.

The new backer replaces Elevation Partners in the ownership group of Forbes. Elevation Partners, which includes former Apple (AAPL - Get Report) executive Fred Anderson and U2 singer Bono among its management, invested $264 million in Forbes in 2006 and is exiting through the deal announced Friday.

Steve Forbes will continue as chairman and editor-in-chief, and his family will retain what it terms a "significant" interest in the company. Forbes' grandfather founded the publication in 1917.

In addition to providing capital, Forbes said that its new sponsor group would "leverage its international relationships" to expand the media company's reach overseas.

"As more market-based economies emerge globally, interest in the information that Forbes provides and the message it delivers resonates with a growing audience," Integrated Asset Management chairman and founder Tak Cheung Yam said in a press release.

Forbes said Friday that it turns a profit and that the company recorded its best performance in six years in 2013. In 2012, the company refinanced its debt with a credit facility from Chicago-based Monroe Capital.

The publisher hired Deutsche Bank (DB - Get Report) to explore a sale last November. At the time, CEO Mike Perlis attributed the move to inquiries from outside groups. "The frequency and serious nature of these overtures have brought us to a decision point," he wrote.

Earlier this year, groups including Chinese conglomerate Fosun International , Singapore investment vehicle Spice Global and German media company Axel Springer Group were viewed as potential buyers.

In addition to Thomas Cho and Emmanuel DeSousa at Deutsche Bank, Forbes retained Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft lawyers Chris Cox, William Mills, Gregory Patti Jr., David Miller, Richard Nugent, Dorothy Auth and Dale Turza.

Whale Media Investments retained Credit Suisse (Hong Kong).

A Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom team including Daniel Dusek, Jonathan Stone, Howard Ellin, Steven Matays, Stephanie Teicher and Ivan Schlager provided counsel to the investors. The investors also hired LKP Global Law. RSM Nelson Wheeler provided financial and tax due diligence to the investors.

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