IDG owns important magazines like PC World and the market research firm IDC. The buyer is understood to be a group led by IDG of Greater China chairman Hugo Shong.
The identity of the other investors in the group and the exact size of the deal could not be learned. The privately held company had been seeking a valuation of $500 million to $1 billion.
Founded in 1964, IDG has grown to be one of the largest global trade publishers, with hundreds of tech-focused websites and magazines.
However, since its founder and long-time CEO, Pat McGovern, died two years ago things have not gone well. Advertising has vanished and the internet has taken out huge chunks of the print business.
IDG said in January that its board of directors hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to explore strategic options.
China is a bright star in IDG’s business. McGovern was very early to see the importance of China, and IDG has been doing business there since 1980, when it launched ComputerWorld China.
IDG’s focus on business rather than politics, helped the company get an early foothold in China and steer clear of press restrictions.
The Chinese buyout group will likely need to seek approval from the US Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS), the government panel that considers deals over national security concerns before finalizing any deal. The US government is also less likely to look favourably on Chinese buy-outs under the current Republican administration.
Donald Prince of Orange made some attacks on China during the election campaign which has made the future of that country’s investment in the United States even less certain.
If the IDG deal is completed, it would be the latest media asset to be sold to Chinese investors, following deals this year including Wanda’s $1 billion announced acquisition of Dick Clark Productions this month.