Cryptocurrency exchange Binance plans to take a $200mn stake in Forbes as the century-old US business magazine aims to go public through a blank-cheque company.
Forbes has been seeking $400mn of additional capital through a private placement as part of its plans to go public via a tie-up with special purpose acquisition company Magnum Opus Acquisition Limited, a deal that is expected to value the business title at $630mn.
The proposed investment by Binance Capital Management through the private placement would mean two top executives at the crypto exchange being appointed as directors on the Forbes board.
Binance, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, sued Forbes for defamation in 2020 over an investigation by the magazine that said the crypto group used its complex corporate structure to intentionally evade US regulation, claims that Binance denied. The exchange later dropped the lawsuit.
A Binance spokesperson said the exchange group would have no involvement in Forbes’ editorial operations. The companies said the deal would help Forbes boost its digital ambitions.
“With Binance’s investment in Forbes, we now have the experience, network and resources of the world’s leading crypto exchange and one of the world’s most successful blockchain innovators,” said Mike Federle, Forbes chief executive. “Forbes, already a resource for people interested in the emerging world of digital assets, can become a true leader in the field with their help.”
The deal represents a major foray into mainstream media for a crypto firm. US-based Digital Currency Group already owns CoinDesk, a well-known crypto specialist publication.
Forbes, founded by Bertie Charles Forbes and Walter Drey more than a century ago, published its first issue in 1917 and is known for tracking the world’s wealthiest individuals, including those who have made their money in recent years from the rise of cryptocurrencies.
The company struck a deal in August with Magnum Opus Acquisition, a Spac backed by the Hong Kong-based private investment firm L2 Capital, which is expected to raise $600mn in fresh investment.
The investment from Binance comprises half of the $400mn private investment for the deal. Spacs typically raise this type of financing, which acts as a form of validation of the company’s valuation and prospects. The so-called Pipe market has dried up significantly in recent months as the enthusiasm for blank-cheque deals has cooled significantly due to poor performance and increasing regulatory scrutiny.
Best known for its billionaires list, Forbes magazine has chronicled the rise of the ultra-rich in recent decades, with its data often licensed by economists studying wealth inequality. In 2018 it began to build a wealth database that values cryptocurrency billionaires and has also launched lists aimed at putting a spotlight on promising cryptocurrency start-ups.
Among crypto billionaires Forbes values is Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, Binance founder, who carries a $1.9bn net worth, according to the magazine, and who graced its cover in 2018.