Leaked audio and video records suggest that Russian businessman Magomed Musaev, not Austin Russell, may be the true buyer of a majority stake in Forbes Global Media Holdings, according to the Washington Post. Previous reports had named Russell, a 28-year-old automotive tech billionaire, as the new owner of the media conglomerate. However, tapes obtained by the Washington Post indicate that Musaev, the owner of Forbes Russia, claimed to be the real buyer, while Russell was merely the “face” of the deal.
In the leaked recordings dating from early June, Musaev allegedly stated, “I just bought global Forbes.” He also expressed his intention to keep his involvement in the acquisition quiet, describing his approach as more subtle, likening it to working with a laser rather than a sledgehammer or scalpel. Musaev referred to the acquisition as the “deal of a lifetime” and emphasized its importance as the key to the most authoritative global brand.
The extent of Musaev’s financial contribution to the purchase and his specific plans for Forbes remain unclear from the leaked records. However, reports in the US media had already speculated on Musaev’s involvement, highlighting his previous $20 million investment in Russell’s company Luminar in 2016. The connection between the two businessmen is said to have continued, with Russell attending Musaev’s 60th birthday party in New York in June, shortly after the Forbes deal was announced.
The reports of Musaev’s involvement in the Forbes deal have attracted the attention of US authorities. Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio called on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who also chairs the US Committee on Foreign Investment, to review the deal. The senators expressed concerns that Russell was acting as a front for larger foreign investors. Russell, however, has denied Musaev’s involvement, stating that Musaev has no role in the Forbes transaction and that there is no capital from any Chinese or Russian citizen or entity involved in the deal.
The financing details of the transaction have not been disclosed by Russell, as he has indicated that he will reveal them only after the sale is finalized. Integrated Whale Media Investments, the current owner of Forbes, has stated that it has conducted extensive due diligence on the buyer group led by Russell and has found no reason for concern with any investors involved. The transaction is expected to be completed in November.
In conclusion, leaked audio and video records suggest that Russian businessman Magomed Musaev, rather than Austin Russell, may be the true buyer of a majority stake in Forbes Global Media Holdings. While Russell was initially named as the media conglomerate’s new owner, the recordings indicate that Musaev claimed to be the real buyer, with Russell serving as the public face of the deal. The extent of Musaev’s involvement and his specific plans for Forbes remain unclear, but the transaction is expected to be finalized in November.