Singapore’s BandLab Technologies is set to buy a 49 percent stake in the iconic Rolling Stone magazine to build its international presence and expand its business into new markets, the two companies confirmed Sunday without giving out the financial details of the deal.
BandLab is led and co-founded by 28-year-old Kuok Meng Ru, the son of billionaire palm oil tycoon Kuok Khoon Hong. It already owns a number of music-related businesses — in 2012, it acquired Swee Lee, a Singapore-based distributor of guitars and other instruments, and San Francisco-based instrument design lab Mono last week. The company also offers a free app that allows artists to create and share music.
BandLab is also the first-ever outside investor in the magazine that completes 50 years soon. Under the deal, a fully owned subsidiary called Rolling Stone international will be set up in Singapore and managed by Kuok. In a statement, he said he was honored to join the magazine to help it “realize its global potential.”
BandLab said it will “focus on expanding Rolling Stone’s business in new markets, and propelling the brand’s global evolution.”
Gus Wenner, head of digital at Wenner Media, who is also the son of Rolling Stone’s founder Jann Wenner, said in a statement: “We see an enormous opportunity to diversify the brand into new markets and new areas of business.”
Rolling Stone publishes 12 international editions — Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico and Russia — and reportedly reaches an audience of over 65 million people. The magazine, however, does not have a significant outreach in Asia, which it aims to overcome with this deal.
Reports say that Kuok and the Wenner family were introduced through a mutual friend, leading to a 15-month negotiation. Kuok told Bloomberg that he sees “plenty of synergies” between Rolling Stone and his company’s other ventures.