Independent Tribune


The Independent Tribune will soon have a new owner.

Lee Enterprises is buying Berkshire Hathaway Media Group’s newspaper publications, including the Independent Tribune, for $140 million in cash, according to a news release Wednesday morning.

The deal involves 30 BH Media newspapers, as well as The Buffalo News, and 49 weekly publications and 32 other print products. Lee will now own and operate 81 daily newspapers, well above its current 50.

Berkshire Hathaway will provide about $576 million in long-term financing to Lee at a 9 percent annual rate, according to the release. The proceeds will be used to pay for the acquisition, refinancing of Lee’s approximate $400 million of existing debt and provide cash to allow for the termination of Lee’s revolving credit facility, the release said.

In June 2018, Lee took over managing all BH Media publications.

Mary Junck, Lee’s chairman, said: “This is a compelling and transformative transaction for Lee. It both refinances our long-term debt on attractive terms and provides new revenue opportunities as well as operational synergies across an expanded portfolio. We have enjoyed a strong, long-term relationship with Berkshire Hathaway, which has been a significant investor across our capital structure for years. As manager of BH Media for the past 18 months, we have developed a deep knowledge of these properties and tremendous respect for their operators. We know firsthand the power this acquisition brings for further accelerating our industry-leading digital revenue growth while maintaining our focus on delivering high-quality local news. We look forward to capturing the tremendous value of this transaction for readers, advertisers and shareholders.”

Warren E. Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway’s chairman and CEO, said: “My partner Charlie Munger and I have known and admired the Lee organization for over 40 years. They have delivered exceptional performance managing BH Media’s newspapers and continue to outpace the industry in digital market share and revenue.

“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. No organization is more committed to serving the vital role of high-quality local news, however delivered, as Lee. I am confident that our newspapers will be in the right hands going forward, and I also am pleased to be deepening our long-term relationship with Lee through the financing agreement.”

The acquisition includes the following newspapers and their digital operations:

» ALABAMA: Dothan Eagle, Opelika-Auburn News.

» IOWA: The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs.

» NEBRASKA: Omaha World-Herald, The Grand Island Independent, Scottsbluff Star-Herald, The North Platte Telegraph, Kearney Hub, York News-Times.

» NEW JERSEY: The Press of Atlantic City.

» NEW YORK: The Buffalo News.

» NORTH CAROLINA: Winston-Salem Journal, Greensboro News & Record, The News Herald in Morganton, The McDowell News, Statesville Record and Landmark, Hickory Daily Record, The Mooresville Tribune, The (Concord) Independent Tribune.

» OKLAHOMA: Tulsa World.

» SOUTH CAROLINA: The Florence Morning News.

» TEXAS: The Eagle in Bryan-College Station, Waco Tribune-Herald.

» VIRGINIA: Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Daily Progress in Charlottesville, The Roanoke Times, Bristol Herald Courier, News & Advance in Lynchburg, Martinsville Bulletin, Danville Register & Bee, The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Culpeper Star-Exponent, The News Virginian in Waynesboro.