Fortune magazine has a new Thai owner:
Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon has acquired Fortune magazine for $150 million, in just the latest example of a U.S. business publication ending up in the hands of an East Asian buyer.
Be smart: The day might not be that far off when there are no major American-owned business publications at all. Even Business Insider is German.
Jiaravanon is a nephew of the famous billionaire and senior chairman of Thailand’s CP Group, Dhanin Chearavanont.
This continues a trend of Anglo-American media properties being sold off to Asian and European buyers. More from Axios:
The similar moves in the space:
Uzabase, a Japanese company, bought Quartz for about $100 million in July.
A mysterious Hong Kong-based group named Integrated Whale Media Investments bought control of Forbes magazine in 2014.
Lachlan Murdoch is openly wondering whether his father Rupert might sell the Wall Street Journal. Should that ever happen, don’t be surprised if that buyer, too, turns out to be East Asian.
I would add to that:
- The Financial Times was sold to Japan’s Nikkei in 2015.
- The Economist was sold to Italy’s Agnelli family, also in 2015.
- Science magazines Nature and Scientific American are owned by Germany’s Holtzbrinck.
- Book publishers Random House and Penguin – now combined as Penguin Random House – are subsidiaries of Germany’s Bertelsmann.
- While we’re at it: the largest shareholder of the New York Times is Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.
It’s not necessarily clear that all of these publishers can maintain their intellectual independence under foreign ownership, especially given the very different attitudes towards press freedom in certain Asian countries. For example, I noted last year that Forbes – having been swallowed by Hong Kong’s Integrated Whale Media – apparently told the prominent China skeptic Gordon Chang they were severing their relationship with him and wiping out his archive of articles. (However, his articles are still available on the site, so I’m not sure what the deal is there.) And Fortune will have to tread very carefully in its coverage of a certain southeast Asian monarch from now on…