Buffett calls purchased newspapers 'keepers' - Omaha.com
Published Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 11:00 am / Updated at 1:07 pm
Buffett calls purchased newspapers 'keepers'


Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond (114,000 subscribers)

The News & Advance, Lynchburg (27,000)

Bristol Herald Courier, Bristol (25,000)

The Daily Progress, Charlottesville (22,000)

Danville Register & Bee, Danville (15,000)

News & Messenger, Prince William County (13,000)

Culpeper Star-Exponent, Culpeper (6,000)

The News Virginian, Waynesboro (6,000)


Dothan Eagle, Dothan, Ala. (28,000)

Morning News, Florence, S.C. (23,000)

Opelika-Auburn News, Opelika, Ala. (14,000)

Jackson County Floridan, Marianna, Fla. (5,000)


The Winston-Salem Journal, Winston-Salem, N.C. (58,000)

Hickory Daily Record, Hickory, N.C. (18,000)

Statesville Record & Landmark, Statesville, N.C. (13,000)

The News Herald, Morganton, N.C., (7,000)

The McDowell News, Marion, N.C. (4,000)

Also, 46 weeklies and other publications throughout the same region.


Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s planned purchase of 63 newspapers from Media General Inc. creates two new companies, based in Omaha and headed by World-Herald executives. They are:

Terry Kroeger
President and CEO of the Omaha World-Herald Co. and president of the new BH Media Group.
Age: 49
Born: Omaha
Education: Bachelor's degree in finance and economics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1985

Experience: Joined the World-Herald in 1985 as assistant purchasing agent and property manager; business manager of the Kearney (Neb.) Hub; director of community newspaper operations; publisher of the Stockton (Calif.) Record; corporate vice president and director in 1996; coordinated planning and construction of The World-Herald's new production facility, opened in 2001; president and chief operating officer in 2005, CEO in 2008.

Civic involvement: Mutual of Omaha Bank, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Westside Community Schools Foundation, Omaha Symphony, TeamMates Mentoring Program, Durham Museum, Creighton University, Children's Scholarship Fund of Omaha, University of Nebraska Foundation, United Way of the Midlands, College of Saint Mary, Inland Press Association, Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, River City Rodeo and 4-H Show.

Family: Married, four children

Douglas Hiemstra
Vice president of operations of The World-Herald Co. and president of World Media Enterprises of Omaha
Age: 49
Born: Omaha
Education: Bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1985.

Experience: Seim, Johnson, Sestak & Quist accounting firm; Gate City Steel; Asarco; Southwest Copper Operations Ray Complex, Tucscon, Ariz.; joined the World-Herald in 1999. World-Herald career: Chief financial officer of World Newspapers; vice president of operations and chief executive officer of Midlands Newspapers; corporate director in 2009; vice president of operations for the Omaha World-Herald Co.

Civic involvement:
Treasurer of La Vista Community Foundation, board member of the Inland Press Association, board member of corporate and Omaha Better Business Bureau.

Family: Divorced, two children.

Click here to read more about the Berkshire Hathaway newspaper purchase.

Video: Buffett competes in the newspaper toss at the annual Berkshire shareholders meeting.


Warren Buffett is ready to buy more newspapers, and he said Thursday his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is the preferred buyer for owners who care about their newspapers.

Buffett, who is attending a Microsoft summit meeting in Washington, told The World-Herald by phone that he has no other purchases pending beyond the $142 million purchase of 63 newspapers from Media General Inc., a deal announced Thursday morning.

“I wouldn't be surprised if, over time, more things come up,” he said. “There aren't a lot of buyers in the field whose checks will clear. ... Any time we can add properties we like, to management we like, at a price we like, we're ready to go.”

Some potential buyers may buy newspapers and try to sell them at a profit later, he said, but newspaper owners know Berkshire isn't like that. “If they care about the paper, they know it's going to a place where it's going to be permanent.”

Other potential buyers showed interest in the Media General newspapers, Buffett said, but that didn't lead to a bidding war, partly because Berkshire also offered to refinance Media General's debt with a $400 million loan.

“We were totally the right one,” he said. “They're all done now in terms of what they have to do. ... We came up with a solution to all of their problems, and they knew we were good for it.”

Buffett he said he is familiar with the 17 daily newspapers he is buying from Media General but not specifically the dozens of weeklies, shoppers and other publications that are part of the deal.

“I know the dailies,” Buffett said. “They're all doing OK, to varying degrees, and I think they'll do even better when we get our people in there. They're keepers.”

He said Berkshire's purchase of The Omaha World-Herald Co. in December was the “starting point” for Berkshire to add more newspapers. (Berkshire already owns the Buffalo News and owns shares of the Washington Post.)

Of the newest additions, Buffett said: “We wouldn't have bought them without knowing we have the management to put in there. The fact that we bought the World-Herald is a material fact in doing this. The World-Herald led to this, in effect.

“You need a management team, and you've got to have confidence in their ability and trust, and we've got it here. That was a real factor, and that will be a factor in future acquisitions, if we make any.”

Since Berkshire bought The World-Herald, Buffett said, Marc Hamburg, Berkshire's chief financial officer, and Ted Weschler, one of Berkshire's investment managers, have worked with World-Herald managers “and feel terrific about them,” Buffett said. “We're enormously pleased with the group we've got at the World-Herald and management.”

Buffett said the $142 million price for the Media General newspapers reflects the market price for the newspapers according to their circulation, which in turn determines advertising rates. Berkshire paid $200 million for The World-Herald chain, which has a smaller circulation than the combined Media General newspapers.

Buffett said The World-Herald price was based on a formula that the newspaper company used to determine the price of shares owned by its employees. “I wasn't going to buy it below the formula price,” a move he said might not have been “feasible.”

Even though The World-Herald price probably was higher than the market price, he said, “the difference wasn't that big.” The Media General purchase price also reflected Berkshire's ability to resolve Media General's debt problems, he said.

Buffett said the newspapers he is buying have something in common with The World-Herald.

“They're in good communities,” he said, and it's important that their potential readers care about their communities. “People buy papers to learn something that they don't know that they want to know.”

Contact the writer: 402-444-1080, steve.jordon@owh.com, twitter.com/buffettOWH

Buffett and Bill Gates throwing newspapers

Contact the writer: Steve Jordon

steve.jordon@owh.com    |   402-444-1080    |  

Steve covers banking, insurance, the economy and other topics, including Berkshire Hathaway, Mutual of Omaha and other businesses.

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