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Forbes puts up "for sale" sign after failed SPAC deal

Kerry Flynn
Aug 3, 2022
For sale sign that says owner wanted
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Media companies that considered the SPAC route are now putting up "for sale" signs, Forbes being the latest example.

Why it matters: The futures of these media brands hinge on the success of these sale processes. Whether they all come together and produce positive results for the businesses, employees and readers is very much TBD.

Catch up quick: Forbes has hired Citigroup to manage a sale process after abandoning its SPAC plan. Vice, which also decided against a SPAC, is in talks to be acquired by Greek broadcaster Antenna, per The New York Times.

Details: The Times reported that Citigroup has already connected with some potential Forbes buyers, including Yahoo. Citigroup did not respond to a request for comment. Yahoo declined to comment.

  • Forbes reported $259 million in 2021 revenue, up from $185 million the prior year. It also reported $38 million in 2021 profit, compared with $8 million in 2020.
  • Whether those figures support the $630 million value the SPAC placed on the business back in August 2021 remains to be seen. The micro numbers are better, the macro picture a lot murkier since then.

The big question: Who would step up to buy Forbes?

  • Investment firm GSV was working on a bid as an alternative to the SPAC deal late last year, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva and Sara Fischer previously reported.
  • Binance announced in February a $200 million investment in Forbes. But after the SPAC collapsed, CEO Changpeng Zhao told Bloomberg in June his company’s agreement was “changing,” though did not specify how. Given the state of crypto markets, it likely wouldn't make sense to pursue a larger deal.
  • Yahoo, which Apollo Global Management bought last year, could make sense. CEO Jim Lanzone told DealBook in June he was interested in growing individual brands like Yahoo Finance and was open to acquisitions.
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