Berkshire Hathaway’s Subsidiary Buys a Newspaper in Virginia

BH Media Berkshire Hathaway

BH Media, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B), the conglomerate controlled by Warren Buffett, acquired the Free Lance-Star newspaper of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

BH Media purchased the Virginia-based newspaper including its online platform and commercial printing operation, Print Innovators from Sandton Capital Partners, an investment management firm based in New York City.

The investment management firm acquired the newspaper and a group of radio stations for $30.4 million in June 2014 after Free Lance-Star Publishing Co. filed for bankruptcy. According to Bloomberg, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered Sandston Capital to sell the newspaper or the radio stations.

BH Media and Sandton Capital Partners did not disclose the financial terms of the transaction.

The Free-Lance Star has a daily circulation of 31,700 copies in Fredericksburg and nearby communities. BH Media CEO Terry Kroeger said the Free Lance-Star “is a strong newspaper in a terrific market, and we’re delighted to be its new owner.”

Berkshire Hathaway now owns 32 newspapers

The media unit of Berkshire Hathaway now owns 32 daily newspapers as well as television stations. The company also owns several weekly newspapers and other publications.

In Virginia, BH Media owns ten daily newspapers including The Martinsville Bulletin and the Franklin News-Post, which the company acquired in March this year.

Mr. Buffett established BH Media in Omaha after purchasing The World Herald in 2011.  The billionaire investor has long been fascinated by the newspaper business. He delivered the Washington Post when he was a teenager.

In 1973, the Omaha Sun, a newspaper owned by Berkshire Hathaway won a Pulitzer Prize for Local investigative Specialized Reporting. The newspaper ceased publication in 1983.

Mr. Buffett serves as Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

BH Media is well-respected in the newspaper community

BH Media is a “well-respected, strategic operator in the community newspaper space,” according to Rob Orr, managing director of Sandston Capital Partners.

He added that the staff and readers of Free Lance-Star will benefit from the stewardship of Berkshire Hathaway’s media unit for many years to come. According to him, Free Lance-Star under its CEO Gene Carr, achieved an “impressive turnaround” since its emergence from bankruptcy.