Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, which has agreed to acquire Trump advisor Anthony's Scaramucci's stake in his hedge fund, is in talks to buy a controlling ownership stake in Forbes Media, publisher of one of the oldest U.S. business magazines, Reuters reported late on Monday.
Forbes' majority owner, Integrated Whale Media Investments, or IWM, a Hong Kong investor group, also is discussing a sale of the magazine with another Chinese media firm, Reuters said, citing two sources with knowledge of the matter.
A Forbes representative declined to comment on the report.
The report of IWM's interest in selling its 95% stake in Forbes Media comes two months after the Forbes family, which retained a 5% share in the company, settled a lawsuit it had filed against the Chinese conglomerate. In the suit, the Forbes family alleged that IWM had failed to make interest payments tied to its 2014 purchase of the company for $415 million.
The interest payment totaled a comparatively tiny $46,000, but had become a source of bitter acrimony.
HNA, which ranked 353rd in the 2016 Fortune Global list of the world's 500 biggest companies, is said to be discussing a deal worth at least $400 million. Three years ago, Integrated Whale took a majority stake in Forbes Media. As a result of the transaction, the private equity firm Elevation Partners exited its investment in the magazine and digital publisher.
HNA's interest in Forbes comes as Scaramucci is eager to close the sale of his stake in SkyBridge Capital, the hedge fund that he founded. An early Wall Street supporter of Trump, Scaramucci is under some pressure to demonstrate that he is free of any potential conflicts of interest if he is to join the Trump administration.
In a live interview with media writer Michael Wolff sponsored by TheStreet on Monday evening, Scaramucci said he has yet to assume the post of director for the Office of Public Liaison in the White House, explaining that once the HNA deal closes, he's confident he will officially get the job. Scaramucci's effort to take the position was thwarted soon after The New York Times ran a front-page article on Feb. 1 about HNA's ties to the Chinese government.
Since then, Scaramucci has worked on behalf of Trump, though without an official title.
"I take Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus at their word, that there will be a job for me when the deal closes," he said on Monday, adding that there have been discussions within the administration about a few other possible positions for him. "I'm not sure what my role will be."
The possible sale of Forbes to a Chinese owner follows heightened concern among U.S. officials and officeholders about Chinese conglomerates increasingly taking ownership of U.S. media and entertainment companies.
Dalian Wanda, the Chinese investment group controlled by the country's richest man, Wang Jianlin, had agreed in November to buy Dick Clark Productions, an acquisition that would have added to its already formidable list of Hollywood properties including theater chain AMC Entertainment (AMC) - Get ReportandLegendary Entertainment, a producer of big-budget films.
But Dalian Wanda failed to make scheduled payments earlier this year as part of its agreement to acquire Dick Clark Productions, forcing the $1 billion deal to be terminated, owner Eldridge Industries said earlier this month.
It was unclear what exactly prevented Dalian Wanda from making those payments, though in recent months the Chinese government has sought to curb large capital outflows from the country given that its foreign exchange reserves fell below $3 trillion in February, triggering red lights. A more hostile attitude in Washington toward Chinese acquisitions of U.S. companies also may have been a factor.