Forbes, the wealth-obsessed business publication, has decided to scrap a deal to go public through a special-purpose acquisition company, also known as SPAC, amid a cooling of the economy. investors’ appetite for the once-popular financial instrument, two people with knowledge of the plans were saying.
The cancellation could be announced as early as this week, one of the people said.
The deal, announced in August, would have taken the company public at a $630 million valuation through a merger with Magnum Opus Acquisition, a Hong Kong-based SPAC. In February, Forbes said it had accepted a $200 million investment from Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange, as part of the deal.
SPACs, also known as blank check companies, are publicly traded shell companies that raise funds for the express purpose of taking a private company public. Investor enthusiasm around blank check companies peaked early last year, but deflated after a number of SPACs failed to deliver on their promises to investors.
Regulators — including Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler — have stepped up scrutiny of SPACs, and the shares of many companies that went public through blank check firms have fallen.
Forbes was one of many media companies that had hoped to tap into the SPAC market to fuel growth. But not all have struck deals, and some have struggled.
Axios earlier reported that the outlook for Forbes’ SPAC deal looked bleak.
Shares of BuzzFeed, which went public as part of a SPAC deal in December, fell more than 50%. Vice’s efforts to go public through a SPAC stumbled when investors turned to the market, and the media company instead sought to raise more money from private investors. The media industry is also concerned about the state of the advertising market, particularly after Snap, the owner of Snapchat, said last week that its revenue and profit would fall short of expectations this quarter.
Some SPACs are still seeking media deals. The executives of Group Nine Media, a publishing company that was recently sold to Vox Media, launched their own blank check company last year aimed at consolidating the digital media industry.
Forbes has released positive financial results since agreeing to go public with Magnum Opus, a sign that the canceled deal may be a reflection of the sourness in the SPAC market. In February, Forbes said it generated $94 million in revenue in the fourth quarter of last year, a 51% increase over the previous year. It posted a profit of $18 million for the quarter, an increase of 80% over the previous year.
Founded as a magazine in 1917, Forbes is known for its ranking of wealthy businessmen. Last year, Forbes said it reached more than 150 million people through its journalism, events and marketing programs. The Forbes family sold a majority stake in the company to Integrated Whale Media Investments in 2014.
Forbes still publishes a print edition eight times a year in the United States and has 45 licensed local versions covering 76 countries.