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Buffett’s Berkshire Continues Building Newspaper Empire

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Buffett's Berkshire Continues Building Newspaper Empire

On Friday, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) announced the purchase of its second Texas newspaper, the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Robinson Media LLC, a Waco family business that purchased the paper in 2009 from Cox Enterprises, was the seller at an undisclosed price; the transaction is expected to close on July 31.

Terry Kroeger, president of Berkshire’s BH Media Group and CEO of the Omaha World-Herald Company said in a statement, “This is a very strong, growing market with terrific assets including Baylor University and the new research park.”

Building a Small Collection of Community Newspapers

The Tribune-Herald, with its 124 employees, has a daily circulation of 34,000 with 39,000 on Sundays. It represents one of the many newspapers that Buffet has a stake in and recently the billionaire said his company will continue expanding in this arena for the next few years.

He has also said that Berkshire Hathaway will attempt to not influence the papers’ editorial policies, reported the Associated Press.

So what other papers does Berkshire Hathaway own? For decades, it has been owner of the Buffalo News of New York and in December, it purchased its local paper, the Omaha World-Herald. On a larger scale, it is the biggest shareholder of Washington Post Co., with its 23 percent stake.

Then, earlier in the month, the company announced it will buy the Bryan-College Station Eagle; this was its first Texas newspaper purchase.

In addition, Berkshire also disclosed its 3.2 percent ownership in the newspaper publisher’s Lee Enterprises’ stock held since the end of March.

But wait, there’s more.

In May, Berkshire announced it would purchase 63 newspapers from Media General Inc. (NYSE:MEG) for $142 million. It will also lend the company $445 million for a 19.9 percent stake in it and a board of directors’ seat.

Why newspapers?

Buffett has defended newspapers and believes they do have a future if they can bring information not found anywhere else. He also thinks free online news should be stopped.

In a May statement, Buffet said, “In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution than the local paper.”

With the latest purchase, Kroger met on Friday with Tribune-Herald employees and said there were neither major changes in the works nor layoffs.

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