Warren Buffett made good on his promise to buy more newspapers, agreeing to buy 63 daily and weekly newspapers in the Southeast for $142 million from financially troubled Media General Inc. of Richmond, Va.
Buffet, a savvy investor is betting on the uniqueness of local news. Buffet’s company is buying publications with a strong community newspaper component in mid-tier markets. “In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution than the local paper,” Buffett said in a statement. “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.”
And Buffett said Thursday he may buy more newspapers. “Any time we can add properties we like, to management we like, at a price we like, we're ready to go.”
Media General is selling all its newspapers, in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida, except The Tampa Tribune, its largest newspaper (which also publishes print and digital Spanish-language publication Centro Tampa).
The Media General newspapers will be combined with the Omaha World-Herald Co. into a new Berkshire Hathaway Inc. division called BH Media Group. They would be managed by World Media Enterprises, a new sister company of The World-Herald. The purchase includes the
The sale would close June 25, subject to Federal Trade Commission and anti-trust reviews.
Richmond Times Dispatch
The largest newspapers in the acquired 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, which sells about 58,000 copies daily and 76,000 on Sundays.
Altogether, the 17 daily newspapers sell about 400,000 copies on weekdays. World-Herald Co. dailies' weekday circulation is about 200,000.
Media General's total weekday circulation makes it the nation's 16th largest newspaper company, according to the latest ranking, a 2011 report by the Pew Research Center. The combined circulations of the papers Berkshire is buying with The Omaha World-Herald Co.'s dailies would make BH Media the 13th largest chain.
The Buffalo (N.Y.) News, owned by Berkshire since 1977, remains a separate part of Berkshire, which also owns about 20 percent of the Washington Post.
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.”
Berkshire said the newspapers' transition to World Media Enterprise management would take place over several months.