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Investor takes stake in Rolling Stone, keeping on owner
[NEW YORK] Media investor Jay Penske on Wednesday announced a stake in Rolling Stone to revive the financial health of the iconic magazine of music and counterculture, with founder Jann Wenner preserving a role.
The investor's Penske Media did not reveal terms of the deal but several media outlets including Variety, one of his titles, said the media company was spending US$100 million for a controling stake.
BandLab Technologies, a Singaporean start-up headed by Kuok Meng Ru, the scion of one of Asia's richest families, will keep its 49 per cent stake in Rolling Stone bought last year, Penske said.
Wenner launched Rolling Stone in 1967 through a family loan when he was a hippie student in Berkeley, California. Within years he turned the magazine into a bible of rock music coverage and a platform for left-wing politics and experimental journalism by writers such as gonzo reporter Hunter S Thompson.
But even as Rolling Stone's reviews remain among the most closely watched in the music industry, the publication has struggled in an era when independent magazines find it difficult to stay afloat.
Rolling Stone suffered a major blow when it retracted a 2014 story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, with a review finding that the magazine ignored basic journalistic practices.
Mr Penske said he hoped to ensure that Rolling Stone "continues to ascend for decades across multiple media platforms." "Our interest in Rolling Stone is driven by its people, its cultural significance and the globally recognized brand that has no peer in its areas of influence," Mr Penske said in a statement.
Mr Wenner will move from serving as Rolling Stone's publisher to a new role of editorial director. Gus Wenner, Jann's son, will keep his position of president and chief operating officer of Wenner Media and join the advisory board of Penske Media, the statement said.
Jann Wenner called Mr Penske "the ideal match for us to thrive in today's media landscape." Founded by Jay Penske in 2003, his company has amassed major titles in entertainment and culture including Variety, one of the most influential outlets in Hollywood, the lighter film site Deadline.com and the fashion business trend-settler Women's Wear Daily.
Mr Penske has also entered the Indian market with India.com, a portal with news on technology and Bollywood that is a joint venture with Mumbai-based Zee Entertainment.
Wenner Media earlier this year sold two magazines, US Weekly and Men's Journal, to American Media, the right-leaning publisher of The National Enquirer and other supermarket tabloids.