A Mysterious Thai Businessman Just Bought Fortune Mag for $150 Million

Will Fortune's new foreign owner carry on the publication's century-old brand legacy?

Fortune global forum
Alan Murray, president of Fortune at the Fortune + Time Global Forum 2016. Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images for TIME

Fortune, the 88-year-old iconic American business magazine, will soon be owned by a Thai billionaire.

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Meredith Corp., which bought Fortune‘s parent company, Time Inc., in November of last year, said on Friday that it had agreed to sell Fortune magazine to Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon for $150 million in cash.

Jiaravanon is the executive chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group), the largest business conglomerate in Thailand. CP Group owns dozens of businesses across agriculture, food, retail and telecommunications in over 30 countries, particularly in China and Japan. The group is the sole operator of 7-Eleven convenience stores in Thailand and is a partial owner of Walmart’s Asia business.

There is very little information about Jiaravanon on the internet. According to Bloomberg’s executive profiles, he owns a number of telecommunication and media companies in Asia, including True Internet Co. and Asia Infonet Co. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Southern California in the U.S.

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Meredith had been looking for a buyer for Fortune for months, as the media group looks to focus solely on lifestyle publications under the Time Inc. umbrella. But this deal came together surprisingly fast. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Friday, Fortune’s president Alan Murray said he met Jiaravanon through a mutual acquaintance just a month ago.

“He’s buying it as a personal investment because he loves the brand,” Murray told The Wall Street Journal, adding that the new owner would not participate in the publication’s day-to-day operations.

“It will give us capital to invest and grow, which is what we need,” Murray continued. “Fortune is unique among legacy media companies in that it now gets the majority of its revenue from digital and conferences. We’re poised for growth, and now we have an owner who is eager to invest.”

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year.

Jiaravanon’s purchase of Fortune is the latest case of billionaires splurging cash on fabled American publications. In the past year alone, several national newspapers and magazines have changed hands from media corporations to billionaires’ personal investments.

In September, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff and his wife bought the 94-year-old Time magazine, also from Meredith, for $190 million, mirroring his peer tech mogul Jeff Bezos’ memorable $250 million takeover of The Washington Post in 2013. In February, Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong snapped up The Los Angeles Times (and its sister newspaper, The San Diego Union-Tribune) for a whopping $500 million.

“Our vision is to establish Fortune as the world’s leading business media brand,” Jiaravanon said in a statement provided by Meredith on Friday. “With further committed investment in technology and brilliant journalism, we believe the outlook for further profitable growth is excellent both for the publication and the events business.”

“I am pleased that we have found an owner for Fortune who believes in our mission, values our editorial independence, wants to invest in our journalism, and thinks Fortune can be the leading brand providing business insight and information around the world,” Murray said in a statement through Fortune. “Watch this space: We will be doing big things in the future.”

A Mysterious Thai Businessman Just Bought Fortune Mag for $150 Million