Cryptocurrency exchange Binance plans to invest US$200 million in business magazine Forbes in an attempt to  go public in New York through a US$630 million tie-up with Magnum Opus Acquisition, a special purpose company. The publisher is also seeking US$400 million of additional capital through a private placement. With this investment, Binance's chief communications officer, Patrick Hillmann, and head of Binance Labs, Bill Chin, will be named directors on the Forbes board. The transaction is expected to close this quarter.

The transactions with Magnum Opus and Binance are expected to help Forbes maximise its brand and enterprise values and use its proprietary technology stack and analytics to convert readers into long-term, engaged customers of the platform, including through memberships and recurring subscriptions to premium content and highly targeted product offerings.

Also, going public will enable Forbes to further capitalise on its successful digital transformation, using technology and data-driven insights to create more deeply engaged audiences, and associated high-quality and recurring revenue streams.

Forbes CEO Mike Federle said the company is committed to demystifying the complexities and providing helpful information about blockchain technologies and all emerging digital assets. “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. Forbes, already a resource for people interested in the emerging world of digital assets, can become a true leader in the field with their help," he added.

Binance spokesperson told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE : "First and foremost, this is a financial investment in the media industry. Web2 had a profound impact on the media sector, and - at Binance - we believe that web3 may have an equally important role to play in the future of journalism and publishing."

Meanwhile, Binance's Hillmann told Financial Times that Forbes ' journalists have Binance's "pure and unadulterated respect" and that editorial independence will be fully guaranteed. Hillmann's comments were made in response to FT about the 2020 lawsuit which Binance filed against Forbes. The cryptocurrency exchange sued Forbes for defamation following an investigation by the latter which alleged that Binance concocted "an elaborate corporate structure" to deliberately deceive and evade bitcoin regulators.

Hillmann told FT that the lawsuit is "totally water under the bridge", and added that the investment would help boost Forbes ' digital plans. Hillmann added that the company was mulling deals in media and other industries in a bid to become a "blockchain infrastructure provider". 

At the same time, Binance is currently hiring for marketing and PR roles globally. A check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE on LinkedIn found roles including global VP marketing, brand marketing director, marketing manager NFT/metaverse, global media relations senior director, and APAC PR director. Globally there are 1,768 job opens in the firm. In Singapore, Binance made headlines last September after the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) placed it on the Investor Alert List to warn consumers that the company is not licenced or regulated by MAS to provide payment services in Singapore. The alert list, which had 699 companies listed at the time of writing previously, showed firms that are not licenced by MAS but might have given investors the impression that they were regulated by the MAS.

That same month, the company removed its app from the Singapore iOS and Google Play Stores and urged users to remove related trade ads by 9 September to avoid potential trading disputes. Binance has since  withdrawn its application for a licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore to offer cryptocurrency services in the country. Binance Asia Services has also ceased operations in Singapore on 13 February and all users were required to close all open positions and withdraw their assets prior to the closure. 

In a separate conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE , Binance's spokesperson said it is refocusing its Binance Asia Services operations in Singapore into a blockchain innovation hub to help develop the global blockchain ecosystem. "Our Singapore-based initiatives are now focused on incubation programs, blockchain education and investment opportunities," the spokesperson said.

Moving forward, the core focus of its business is to develop leading blockchain technologies for users and create economic opportunities. "Our marketing team will continue supporting this mission in 2022. Our teams are dynamic. We hire and deploy our staff globally depending on our evolving strategic needs," the spokesperson said.

Weeks after Binance Asia Services withdrew its application for a licence last December, the Monetary Authority of Singapore issued guidelines in January stating that digital payment token (DPT) service providers should not promote their services to the general public in Singapore. DPT is also more commonly known as cryptocurrency. Under the new MAS guidelines, DPTs are discouraged from engaging in marketing or advertising in public areas in Singapore.

This includes ads on public transport, public transport venus, public websites, social media platforms, broadcast and print media, or provision of physical ATMs. DPTs are also discouraged from engaging third parties, such as social media influencers, to promote their services to the public in Singapore. Moving forward, DPT service providers can only market or advertise on their own corporate websites, mobile applications or official social media accounts.

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Photo courtesy: 123RF

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