Buffett’s media unit is being sold to Lee Enterprises, headquartered in Davenport, Iowa. The portfolio includes newspapers such as the Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Buffalo News and his hometown paper in Nebraska, the Omaha World-Herald.
“We had zero interest in selling the group to anyone else for one simple reason: We believe that Lee is best positioned to manage through the industry’s challenges,” Buffett said in a statement Wednesday. “No organization is more committed to serving the vital role of high-quality local news, however delivered, as Lee.”
Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, will provide Lee $576 million in long-term financing to help Lee pay off its existing debts. After the deal was announced, Lee’s stock soared to its biggest one-day gain, just days after it closed at a four-year low, MarketWatch reported.
The deal puts 81 daily papers under the Lee umbrella while doubling its readership.
Buffett saw the newspaper industry as a viable investment when he made his multimillion-dollar purchase in 2012. At the time, he told shareholders that he believed “papers delivering comprehensive and reliable information to tightly-bound communities and having a sensible Internet strategy will remain viable for a long time.”
But at Berkshire’s 2018 annual conference, Buffett said the purchase didn’t have a strong negative effect on the company he has been CEO of since 1970.
“We bought all the papers at reasonable prices,” he said. “It is not a great economic consequence to Berkshire.”