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Binance, led by the world's richest crypto billionaire, takes a $200 million stake in Forbes

Binance, led by the world's richest crypto billionaire

February 14, 2022: -Binance, the biggest cryptocurrency exchange globally, is making a $200 million strategic investment in Forbes, the 104-year-old magazine and digital publisher CNBC has learned.

According to people with knowledge of the deal, the funds will help Forbes execute on its plan to merge with a publicly-traded particular purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, in the first quarter.

In recent months, investors have grown skeptical of SPAC deals generally, and media deals in particular, between the broader stock market retrenchment. Binance will replace half of the $400 million in commitments from institutional investors announced by Forbes in August, said the people who refused to be identified before the transaction is reported.

That would make Binance one of the top two most prominent owners of Forbes, listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker FRBS, the people said. The crypto company would also get two directors out of nine total board seats.

The move shows the increasing real-world influence of the crypto sector, which has seen surging valuations and minted a recent class of billionaires between global interest in digital assets. While crypto companies have gone public, affixed their names to sports arenas, and flooded airwaves with celebrity endorsements, this is the sector’s first significant investment in a traditional U.S. media property.

Forbes was founded over a century ago by the grandfather of editor-in-chief and two-time presidential candidate Steve Forbes. In the year 2014, Forbes sold a 95% stake to Hong Kong-based Integrated Whale Media at a valuation of $475 million.

Known for its flagship magazine and a digital publishing model that relies on contributors, Forbes has diversified its revenue with licensing deals and e-commerce and direct-to-consumer efforts. The company says it hits 150 million people through its content and events.

Forbes is known for its annual rankings of the richest business tycoons.

It’s a category that Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao joined recently. In the previous month, the net worth of Zhao, who prefers to go by “CZ,” was pegged at $96 billion by Bloomberg News. A conservative estimate excludes his crypto holdings, and the figure makes him easily the industry’s most prosperous entrepreneur.

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