Forbes Media Hires Deutsche Bank to Explore Magazine Sale

Forbes Media CEO says magazine has received interest from potential buyers

Forbes Media is exploring a possible sale and has hired Deutsche Bank to represent it as it fields offers for one of the most storied brands in business journalism, Forbes Media President and CEO Mike Perlis said in a note to the company’s employees on Friday.

“As a result of your tremendous work, we have received more than a few ‘over the transom’ indications of interest to buy Forbes Media,” Perlis wrote. “The frequency and serious nature of these overtures have brought us to a decision point.  We’re organizing a process to test the waters regarding a sale of Forbes Media.”

Like many publications, Forbes has been hit hard by the downturn in print advertising and the accelerated pace of digital news gathering and consumption. It has, however, made strides in transitioning into a more internet-savvy brand. In his note, Perlis wrote that unique visitors to has jumped from 12 million to 26 million in the last three years.

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Forbes Magazine’s circulation has remained more or less stable in recent years at 932,884, according to the Alliance of Audited Media. The company is best known for its annual rankings of the world’s richest people.

“Digital revenues are expected to increase over 25% by the end of the year,” Perlis wrote. “In print, through September, we continue to be the share of market leader in our competitive set.  Our efforts have also focused on diversifying our revenue streams to complement our advertising-based businesses – and many of our initiatives have come to fruition this year.”

Perlis said the company will have an “open conversation” at a Town Hall meeting early next year.

The so-called “capitalist tool” has been in the Forbes family since its inception nearly 100 years ago. In recent years, Forbes has tried to cut costs through lay-offs and by selling its Fifth Avenue headquarters to New York University.

In 2006, the company sold a 40 percent stake to a private equity firm called Elevation Partners, in a deal that was reportedly valued at $300 million.

News of a possible sale first broke on Bloomberg.

Full disclosure: The author was an employee of Forbes Media from 2004-05.