Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), will buy The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO), reports Paul Farhi of The Washington Post. That puts an end to the four-generation, 80-year ownership of the company by the Graham family.
Shares of the publishing company soared after the announcement, climbing more than 5 percent in after-hours trading at the New York Stock Exchange.
Bezos’s deal for The Washington Post revealed
Bezos will pay $250 million for the newspaper and its affiliated publications which together make up The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO). Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is not in any way associated with the purchase. Bezos himself is fronting the cash and will become the sole owner of the company after the transaction closes. It’s expected that the transaction will be complete within the next 60 days.
The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO) will have a new name after Bezos buys it. At this point the new name of the company has not been decided. The company will also continue to be traded publicly.
The Washington Post haunted by industry turmoil
The deal came as a big surprise to most people. The Washington Post and its affiliated newspapers have not been immune to the problems which face the newspaper industry as a whole. The shift from printed news to Internet news has not only increased competition for advertising dollars but also scattered readers and triggered numerous mergers, bankruptcies and consolidations among print news agencies. Just last month, Tribune Co. announced that it would spin off its newspapers into a separate company.
The Graham family didn’t come to the decision to sell the company lightly. Operating revenue at The Washington Post has fallen 44 percent over the last six years. The paper remains a popular online news source, although print circulation continues to decline. The Graham family hired Allen & Co. to secretly shop the paper around, and the company’s board finally selected Jeff Bezos.
Bezos optimistic about The Post, in spite of challenges
In an interview, Bezos said he was optimistic about the future of The Washington Post. He said after the sale, operations and management would continue without disruption, although he said some changes will need to be made in order to keep the paper profitable. He said it would require some “experimentation” because it is “uncharted terrain.”