Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Adds Greensboro, NC, Daily to Growing Newspaper Unit

Thursday, 31 Jan 2013 12:56 PM

 

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Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said Thursday that it is adding the Greensboro, N.C., News & Record to its growing newspaper division.

Berkshire bought the 122-year-old daily newspaper from Landmark Media Enterprises, based in Norfolk, Va.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The Omaha World-Herald, which oversees Berkshire's newspaper division, reported that the News & Record has daily circulation of 58,000 and Sunday circulation of 86,000.

Editor's Note: Billionaires Dump Stocks. Prepare for the Unthinkable.

Buffett did not immediately respond Thursday to email questions about the Greensboro acquisition.

Omaha World-Herald Publisher Terry Kroeger, who leads the newspaper unit, said the Greensboro newspaper will be a great fit with the other small and medium-sized community newspapers Berkshire has purchased.

"We're delighted to have the Greensboro News & Record join our growing family of newspapers," Kroeger said.

Newspapers remain a relatively small part of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns an assortment of more than 80 subsidiaries and holds major stakes in companies like Coca-Cola Co., Wells Fargo and IBM.

Buffett has said he thinks newspapers will continue earning a decent return as long as they remain the primary source of information about their communities.

Outsell Inc. media analyst Ken Doctor said Buffett is quickly becoming the buyer of choice for these smaller newspapers.

"Warren Buffett is emerging as the main street buyer of newspapers. He wants these main street newspapers," Doctor said.

Last year Berkshire acquired 63 Media General newspapers for $142 million and launched its new newspaper unit. The Media General paper joined the Buffalo News, the Omaha World-Herald and several other newspapers in Nebraska and Iowa that Berkshire already owned although the Buffalo paper operates independently from the newspaper unit.

Berkshire closed the Manassas (Va.) News & Messenger at the end of 2012 because the newspaper was struggling to compete in the Washington suburbs, but Buffett has said he expects to continue buying newspapers.

The Greensboro newspaper will be the 28th daily newspaper Berkshire has bought. It is also 30 miles away from the Winston-Salem Journal that Berkshire acquired in the Media General deal.

Doctor said the proximity of Greensboro to several of Berkshire's other newspapers suggests that Buffett's company might be trying to cluster together its newspapers, so they can share some resources.

Buffett has told Berkshire's newspaper publishers that he won't influence their editorial policies, and he isn't routinely involved in the day-to-day operations of other subsidiaries. But Buffett think newspapers should charge for online access to their stories, and several of Berkshire's newspapers have online pay walls.

Berkshire's subsidiaries include Geico and General Reinsurance, BNSF railroad, MidAmerican Energy utility, Fruit of the Loom, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Dairy Queen and many others.

Editor's Note: Billionaires Dump Stocks. Prepare for the Unthinkable.

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