Mr. Murray, who helped lead the process along with and Meredith’s banking adviser, Citigroup, said in September, “It was a learning process for me, and these things just take a lot longer than you think they would.”
Mr. Jiaravanon, 56, who will not play any role in managing the magazine, emerged as a suitor only within the past three weeks, Mr. Murray said. Meredith had talked to about a dozen serious buyers for the magazine this year.
The deal was reached Friday evening in Hong Kong, where Mr. Jiaravanon celebrated his acquisition at dinner with Mr. Murray.
Fortune, the second title to be hatched by Henry Luce, Time Inc.’s founder, has won numerous awards over its 88 years. It became known for its in-depth features, which often recast a company’s rise or fall as a lively case study.
That a little-known businessman like Mr. Jiaravanon would become Fortune’s new owner underscores the wildly shifting prospects for America’s best-known magazines. But that was one of the key reasons for Mr. Jiaravanon’s interest.
“He loves the brand,” Mr. Murray said. “And he really has an appetite to invest.”
Fortune has not covered Mr. Jiaravanon or his family conglomerate, known as C.P. Group, extensively. The family business is the largest private company in Thailand, with interests department stores, banks, telecommunications companies and other businesses. The company’s senior chairman, Dhanin Chearavanont, often tops the list of Thailand’s richest people.
Mr. Jiaravanon, a graduate of the University of Southern California, also sits on the board of True Corporation, a Thai media company with over $4 billion in revenue.
His ownership of Fortune immediately vaults Mr. Jiaravanon onto the world stage, but he did not buy the magazine “for personal glorification,” Mr. Murray said. “The fact that he’s not talking to you is evidence of that.”