Warren Buffett bought his hometown newspaper on Wednesday. Not just one copy but the whole darn thing.
The billionaire investor's Berkshire Hathaway company announced that it has agreed to purchase the parent company of the Omaha World-Herald from its employee shareholders and the Peter Kiewit Foundation. According to the paper, the deal is expected to close in December, pending approval from the company’s shareholders.
In a statement, Buffett praised the paper as "one of the best-run newspapers in America" and stressed that its "editorial independence" will continue. The deal also includes other dailies owned by the Omaha World-Herald Company, including one in Iowa and a handful scattered throughout Nebraska. Berkshire already owns the Buffalo News and a sizeable chunk of the Washington Post (which is owned by the same parent company as Slate).
As Poynter reminds us, Buffett's latest newspaper acquisition comes two years after he warned investors against buying newspapers. "For most newspapers in the United States, we would not buy them at any price," he said in May 2009 at a Berkshire shareholders meeting. "Twenty, thirty years ago, they were a product that had pricing power that was essential" but now "they have lost that essential nature."
Kroeger, publisher, president and CEO of the World-Herald, said that Buffett's offer "presented a unique opportunity to address our long-term capital needs and continue local ownership" of the paper, which was founded in 1885.