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DMG China Readying Investment in Forbes

Yinji Entertainment & Media, the Chinese offshoot of Dan Mintz’s film and entertainment rights group DMG, is readying an attempt to buy a minority stake in Forbes.

The Shenzhen stock market-listed Yinji is establishing a $256 million investment fund in Hong Kong that will seek to buy 10% of Forbes and license the publishing rights in Greater China. Yinji announced its plans to create a “global, high-level concept entertainment brand” through the acquisition, in a regulatory filing.

Forbes is currently 95% owned by another Hong Kong company, Integrated Whale Media. The Forbes family sued IWM after it failed to make all the instalment payments on its $415 million takeover deal from 2014.

While still publishing in print, Forbes has radically changed its online service. It shifted from a centrally managed website to a contributor model, where writers are freelancers paid according to the traffic they generate.

Forbes’ editorial independence has recently been questioned after it deleted an article, and revoked the self-publishing privileges of an author who had criticized the non-profit organization Asia Society and its strongly pro-Beijing backer Ronnie Chan, in an article about (now-jailed) pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong.

In China, where its lists of the wealthy are closely watched, Forbes attracted another takeover bid in January this year, from the acquisitive airlines to property group HNA. It is understood to have offered some $400 million and sought majority control.

DMG was a co-producer on “Iron Man 3” and a producer on “Looper.” It was behind a 3D rerelease of “Terminator 2” and latterly launched into e-Sports and virtual reality, opening “Transformers” experience centers around China. In 2015 it bid $600 million to acquire Taiwan cable TV platform Eastern Broadcasting, but the bid failed.

The bid was subject to review by Taiwan’s National Communications Commission and the island’s Investment Commission, with special scrutiny due to concerns that Mainland Chinese investors could be involved. Mintz had been at pains to stress that the bid was being made by his private U.S.-based operations, rather than China-based Yinji.

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