Binance, the world's biggest crypto exchange by volume, is making a $200 million investment in magazine and digital publisher Forbes.
According to CNBC, the strategic investment will make Binance one of the two biggest owners of Forbes, with the exchange also getting two directors out of nine total board seats as part of the publisher's plan to merge with a publicly-traded SPAC (special-purpose acquisition company), Magnum Opus Acquisition Limited. Following the SPAC merger, Forbes will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker FRBS.
.@Forbes Announces $200 Million Strategic Investment From #Binance.https://t.co/VEhrnxzfnM
— Binance (@binance) February 10, 2022
"With Binance’s investment in Forbes, we now have the experience, network and resources of the world’s leading crypto exchange and one of the world’s most successful blockchain innovators," said Forbes CEO Mike Ferdele in a statement accompanying the announcement.
Forbes describes itself as a "global media company, focusing on business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, and lifestyle." The publisher is noted for its ranking of the world's billionaires, albeit Binance CEO Changpeng 'CZ' Zhao has yet to make the list; rival publisher Bloomberg's Billionaires Index estimates his wealth at $96 billion.
The investment by Binance reflects the growing clout of the cryptocurrency sector, which has put millions into lobbying, sports sponsorships and acquisitions. Increasingly, the M&A moves are now extending outside of the narrow confines of the cryptocurrency space; last month, it was reported that crypto exchange BitMEX is looking to acquire Bankhaus von der Heydt, one of the oldest banks in Germany.
Binance's acquisition of Forbes comes as the exchange wrestles with regulatory woes. Last month, a Reuters investigation found that Zhao had reportedly ignored concerns raised by senior employees over the exchange's know-your-customer (KYC) checks, among other regulatory shortcomings.
Interestingly, the deal comes just over a year after Binance sued Forbes.
In November 2020, Binance filed a defamation suit against Forbes and two reporters over a story titled "Leaked ‘Tai Chi’ Document Reveals Binance’s Elaborate Scheme to Evade Bitcoin Regulators." The exchange claimed the article contained "numerous false, misleading and defamatory statements about Binance." Zhao denied the allegations made in the report in a since-deleted tweet, dismissing them as "FUD" and noting that "the whole article hinges on a 3rd party document" not produced by a Binance employee. "Anyone can produce a “strategy document,'" Zhao said at the time, "but it does not mean Binance follows them."
Binance quietly dropped the lawsuit one year ago.
In a statement announcing Binance's investment in Forbes, Zhao said that, "As Web 3 and blockchain technologies move forward and the crypto market comes of age we know that media is an essential element to build widespread consumer understanding and education."
This article has been updated to add further information and context.