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Penske Media Corp. acquires majority stake in the owner of Rolling Stone

On the cover
Mick Jagger, left, and Keith Richards grace the cover of the Dec. 11, 1997, issue of Rolling Stone. Penske Media acquired a majority stake in the magazine’s owner.
(Mark Seliger / Associated Press)

Penske Media Corp. said it has made a strategic investment in Wenner Media, the owner of Rolling Stone, the iconic pop culture and music magazine founded a half-century ago.

The companies announced the investment Wednesday night but did not disclose financial terms. The investment values Wenner Media at about $100 million, according to the Hollywood trade magazine Variety, which is owned by Penske Media.

Under the deal, New York-based Wenner Media will maintain editorial oversight of Rolling Stone, which will remain an independent authority on U.S. pop culture and political coverage, the companies said in a statement.

In addition to Variety, Penske’s other assets include the online news site Deadline, Robb Report and IndieWire. The company, which says it has a monthly audience of more than 180 million people, is based in New York and Los Angeles.

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“Our interest in Rolling Stone is driven by its people, its cultural signficance, and the globally recognized brand that has no peer in its areas of influence,” Penske Media Chairman and Chief Executive Jay Penske said in a statement. “We believe that Penske Media is uniquely qualified to partner with the Wenners to ensure the brand continues to ascend for decades across multiple platforms.”

Launched in San Francisco, Rolling Stone played a pioneering role in coverage of the counterculture and the rise of rock music. But the influential magazine struggled to maintain its relevancy in recent years and was squeezed by challenges in the magazine industry that have eroded print advertising and circulation. Its standing also was badly damaged after it retracted a discredited article in 2015 about a brutal gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity.

Jann Wenner, who co-founded Rolling Stone in 1967, will remain the magazine’s editorial director. His son, Gus Wenner, will remain president and chief operating officer.

“I am so proud of our accomplishments over the past 50 years and know Penske Media is the ideal match for us to thrive in today’s media landscape,” Jann Wenner said in a statement.

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BandLab, a Singapore-based company, will retain its 49% stake in the magazine.


UPDATES:

9:13 p.m.: This article was updated to include additional background about Rolling Stone.

This article was originally published at 8:50 p.m.


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