Meredith Corp. has had a busy year, from making C-suite changes to flipping its media properties, the latest being the Fortune media brand – to pay down its debt. The magazine was founded by media magnate and Time co-founder Henry Luce in 1929 and started publishing in 1930, right in the middle of the Great Depression.
Fast forward 88 years later and Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon is shelling out $150 million for the brand through a holding company: Fortune Media Group Holdings Ltd. Note that Fortune ended up in Meredith’s hands last year when Time Inc. (which spun out from Time Warner Inc. in 2014) was acquired for $2.7 billion. The current deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close this quarter.
Fortune’s owner-to-be is affiliated with the Charoen Pokphand Group, an international conglomerate with businesses in telecom and media; agro-food; retail and distribution; e-commerce and digital; property development; automotive and industrials; finance and investment; and pharmaceutical sectors. Jiaravanon is involved in C.P. Group’s technology, media and telecom businesses, and serves as a board member of communications conglomerate True Corp.
According to the deal announcement, Jiaravanon will own Fortune as a personal private investment independent of C.P. Group’s family businesses. 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.”
Alan Murray, who will become president and CEO of Fortune, stated: “I am pleased that we have found an owner for Fortune who believes in our mission, values our editorial independence and wants to invest in our journalism …”
As part of the deal, Meredith will provide short-term business continuity services and has entered a multi-year agreement with Jiaravanon to provide services such as corporate sales, consumer marketing, subscription fulfillment, paper purchasing and printing.