Perspectives from ISB

Rolling Stone is an American biweekly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still now the magazine’s publisher. His family controls the publication through Wenner Media. Mr. Wenner’s son Gus, who is currently the head of digital for Wenner Media, is speculated to soon take over from his father at the company. Wenner Media carries significant debt, which will be due in the coming years.

 In a recent move, Meng Ru Kuok, the son of the Asian business magnate Kuok Khoon Hong, is slated to take a 49 percent stake in Rolling Stone, forming a partnership with the magazine’s parent, Wenner Media. He becomes the first outside investor in Rolling Stone’s 49-year history. As part of the deal, the two companies will form a wholly owned subsidiary called Rolling Stone International that Mr. Kuok will lead from Singapore. The partnership is intended to help the magazine expand into new markets and bolster its brand internationally.

 This is not the first acquisition by Kuok. His flagship company, BandLab Technologies is an online community that allows artists to create and share music. In 2012, Kuok acquired Swee Lee, a 70-year-old distributor of guitars in Singapore that now sells merchandise online and offers music lessons, and has since become Southeast Asia’s biggest distributor of instruments and audio equipment. Other recent acquisitions include Composr, a European iOS and web music-making service, and MONO Creators Inc., the San Francisco-based design studio that creates high-end instrument cases, straps and accessories.

 Although the main interest of his family business remains in palm oil, Kuok remains part of a bigger dynasty that goes beyond it. His father is nephew to Robert Kuok, one of the world’s richest men according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Worth $13.5 billion, the family patriarch controls businesses from sugar and fertilizers to hotels and logistics companies.

 Source: New York Times; September 25, 2016

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