Buffett buys 63 newspapers
On Thursday, Buffett to buy 63 newspapers for $142 million
On Thursday, Warren Buffett kept his promise to buy more newspapers, agreeing to buy 63 daily and weekly newspapers in in the Southeast for roughly $142 million from Media General Inc. of Richmond, Virginia.
Media General originated as a newspaper company in Richmond in 1850.
The largest in the group are the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which sells about 115,000 copies on weekdays and 165,000 on Sundays, and the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, selling about 58,000 copies every day and roughly 76,000 on Sundays. The 17 daily newspapers sell about 400,000 copies during the week, while World-Herald Co. sells about 200,000 daily.
"In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution than the local paper," said Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire, in a press release. "The many locales served by the newspapers we are acquiring fall firmly in this mold, and we are delighted they have found a permanent home with Berkshire Hathaway."
Terry Kroeger, president and CEO of The World-Herald, is president of BH Media Group. Douglas Hiemstra, vice president of operations of The World-Herald, is president of World Media Enterprises.
"These newspapers are great institutions and powerful brands in their respective markets," Kroeger said in the press release. "We are honored to have the opportunity to work with our new colleagues as we continue to produce top-notch news and advertising products in both print and digital platforms."
Buffett said he wouldn't interfere with World-Herald's editorial or news policies, when he acquired it, and expected the company to do its best. Buffett has a history of gaining good companies, with good managers, and letting them run their businesses with little control from his office. Berkshire owns an estimated 80 businesses with over 300,000 employees, and Buffett said he relies on the managers to run their businesses, as though they owned it.
Newspapers are an excellent business when the owner has "the only megaphone in town." And before digital media rose up, newspapers used to be "enormously valuable." Although newspapers aren't the only source for news, they still deliver news and advertising info that people cannot find anywhere else. Newspapers are important in cities where people are active and interested with their communities.
Media General's annual meeting had Marshall Morton, president and CEO of the company, state that the company is considering selling its newspapers. And although the revenue had decreased by half since its 2006 peak of $600 million, "there remains a loyal audience and advertiser base for the printed product."
The company's stock price dropped to $1.14 in October, and closed at $3.14 a share on Wednesday. Berkshire would loan $400 million and set a $45 million line of credit to refinance Media General's debt. Once the financing process is complete, Berkshire will have the option to elect a person to Media General's board of directors. Media General will retain $25 million in cash and used the rest of sale revenue to pay debt.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: newspapers, revenue, profit, news
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