Warren Buffett to buy Richmond Times-Dispatch

Posted at 8:46 AM, May 17, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-17 19:38:45-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Richmond-based Media General, Inc. has agreed to sell the Richmond Times-Dispatch and all of its other newspapers, with the exception of the Tampa group, to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. The deal also includes the newspaper's websites, mobile and tablet applications.

Media General announced the $142 million deal in a press release Thursday morning.

“In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution than the local paper,” said Warren Buffett, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, 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.”

Under the terms of the deal, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, BH Media Group, will purchase the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the other newspapers which include the Charlottesville Daily Progress and the Winston-Salem Journal. Sixty-three daily and weekly papers in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama are part of the deal.

“These newspapers are great institutions and powerful brands in their respective markets,” said Terry Kroeger, president of BH Media Group.  “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.”

In addition to the sale of the newspapers, the companies have a separate credit agreement in which Berkshire Hathaway will provide Media General with a $400 million term loan and a $45 million revolving credit line. According to the Media General press release, "the new loan will be used to fully repay the company’s existing bank debt due March 2013 and will mature in May 2020."

“Selling our newspapers represents a monumental change for us," said Media General president and CEO Marshall N. Morton. "We’re very happy that our newspapers will become part of Berkshire Hathaway’s BH Media Group, a company with a strong commitment to local news leadership and community engagement."

Morton said Media General would now focus on its broadcast television stations and search for "future growth opportunities."

The newspaper transaction is expected to close on June 25.

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