Forbes China magazine to shut down

The year 2015 is ending with another print media marking its final edition, as digital media takes the communication industry by storm. Caught in the vortex this time is Forbes China magazine. All of its staff will be dismissed by the end of this year. The magazine was established in the Chinese mainland in 2003.

Associated with the bad news is the much troubled Chinese business conglomerate Fosun International Ltd. Following Hong Kong Morningside Ventures, Fosun became the copyright cooperation partner of Forbes in the Chinese mainland in 2009. Shanghai Zhihui Culture Communication Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Fosun, became the new operator of Forbes China magazine.

Fosun said in an e-mail reply to China Daily that the authorized operation of Forbes China magazine by Shanghai Zhihui expires on Thursday.

But Forbes China employees say they were taken by great surprise. According to an insider close to Forbes China, the company had reported a good financial performance since it entered the mainland in 2003.

"We were all surprised to be informed that there might be no new investors and the team, including reporters and editors, will be dismissed. Staff with the company were paid in time and its revenue also increased year-on-year over the past few years," said the insider, who refused to be named.

Forbes China had been faced with losses before Fosun took over. But the magazine managed to make a profit the second year after Fosun took over operational responsibility and the profit jumped to more than 10 million yuan ($1.54 million) one year later, according to the insider. The profit mainly came from offline wealth forums.

According to the insider, staff with Forbes China are negotiating with the company, seeking compensation following the conclusion of the contract with Fosun.

The magazine has already talked with other investors, but a new contract has yet to be signed.

Public information shows that 21st Century Media Co has an 85 percent share in Shanghai Zhihui, while Fosun holds 33 percent of 21st Century Media.

However, the previously high-profile 21st Century Media has been in the doldrums since late 2014 when the company's former president Shen Hao was sentenced to four years in prison for blackmailing companies by threatening negative coverage and forcing financial transactions.

Also faced with negative media reporting is Fosun Chairman Guo Guangchang, who was unreachable for four days in mid-December, and said he was assisting a judicial investigation.

Guo has been active in investing in media in the past few years. But few of them have been successful. Instead, some with the same fate of shutting down, such as Global Entrepreneur magazine which ceased publication in late April.

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