Singapore’s palm oil prince buys stake in music history with Rolling Stone deal

Legendary music brand sells 49 per cent stake to BandLab Technologies which looks to diversify it into new markets

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 3:29pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 3:29pm

A Singapore start-up has bought a 49 per cent stake in Rolling Stone magazine, in the hope of popularising the legendary music and pop culture brand in Asia and other new markets.

BandLab Technologies, led by 28-year old Meng Ru Kuok, son of billionaire palm oil tycoon Kuok Khoon Hong, is the first-ever outside investor in the 49-year-old magazine. Under the terms of the deal, a fully-owned subsidiary called Rolling Stone international will be set up in Singapore and managed by Kuok.

Kuok, whose company already owns a portfolio of online and offline music-related businesses, said in a statement that he was honoured to join Rolling Stone to help it “realise its global potential.”

According to Bloomberg, BandLab is funded by private investors including Kuok’s father.

Gus Wenner, the son of Rolling Stone’s founder Jan Wenner and head of digital at Wenner Media said, “We see an enormous opportunity to diversify the brand into new markets and new areas of business.”

Rolling Stone helped popularise gonzo journalism and bring counterculture to the masses, as well as famously christening investment bank Goldman Sachs the “vampire squid.” But more recently it ran into trouble over its coverage of an alleged rape on a US college campus, for which it was forced to issue multiple apologies.

The magazine publishes 12 international editions, including four in the Asia Pacific, and currently has a global audience of more than 65 million people, according to the company.

BandLab Technologies, meanwhile, has musical instruments distributor Swee Lee and web music-making service Composr in its stable.

Kuok and the Wenner family were first introduced through a mutual friend, which led to 15 months of negotiation before they did the trans-Pacific deal.

BandLab Technologies declined to reveal the value of the deal, while Rolling Stone’s owner Wenner Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment

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