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Forbes Media sells majority stake to Hong Kong investors

Forbes Media said it would sell a majority stake to a new Hong Kong-based international investor group, Integrated Whale Media Investments.

Forbes won't comment on the dollar amount invested, the exact size of the stake or the valuation, but sources say the deal puts an enterprise value on Forbes of $475 million.

The company's new controlling shareholders include Hong Kong-based investor Tak Cheung Yam and Singapore-based Wayne Hsieh, co-founder of ASUSTeK Computer.

"We're very excited about the transaction," said Steve Forbes. "It gives us the capital to expand. It enables us to move forward on the digital side, and it allows us to go full bore on brand extension—conferences and the like. This way we can realize the full potential."

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With a particular focus on international growth, one place Forbes sees potential is real estate: "Hotels and the like. People see the brand as representing entrepreneurial capitalism."

With this investment, Elevation Partners is selling its stake—about 45 percent-- and exiting the company. The fund led by Roger McNamee and rock star Bono, bought a minority stake in Forbes Media in 2006 for $265 million, then as the company struggled with declining advertising and subscription revenue, had to write down the majority of that investment.

The Forbes family will retain a significant ownership stake and will stay actively involved: Steve Forbes will remain chairman and editor-in-chief and the company will continue to be led by CEO Mike Perlis. "They've made it clear they want us to run the media side," Forbes said.

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The magazine company says that it is profitable, and in 2013 it had its best financial performance in years. Steve Forbes says that this year revenue is topping last year's.

Still, the fact that the company drew an investment near half a billion dollars is surprising considering that last fall Time Warner offered $175 million for the company, and when Forbes put itself up for sale, it was looking for a price tag of around $400 million.

By CNBC's Julia Boorstin

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