Berkshire Hathaway Completes Sale of Newspaper Assets to Lee Enterprises

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio of newspapers now officially have a new home, Lee Enterprises. The company is a local news provider and leading platform for advertising in 77 markets.

Lee Enterprises has completed its acquisition of BH Media Group’s publications and The Buffalo News.

The acquisition nearly doubled Lee’s audience size and added 30 daily newspapers, more than 49 paid weekly publications with digital sites, and 32 other print products from BHMG, as well as The Buffalo News, to Lee’s portfolio of high-quality local publications.

Lee’s portfolio is now comprised of 77 publications in 77 communities.

Additionally, after the elimination of the management agreement and adding operating expenses from the lease agreement, the transaction is expected to drive an 87% increase in revenue, a 40% increase in adjusted EBITDA, and immediately reduce Lee’s leverage to 3.5x, even before $20-25 million in anticipated annual revenue and cost synergies.

As previously announced, and in connection with the transaction, Berkshire Hathaway provided approximately $576 million in long-term financing to Lee at a 9% annual rate.

The proceeds from the financing were used to pay for the acquisition and refinance Lee’s existing debt, and also allowed Lee to terminate its revolving credit facility.

Berkshire Hathaway is now Lee’s sole lender.

Mary Junck, Chairman, said, “We are pleased to complete this compelling and transformative transaction, which enhances Lee’s position strategically, operationally and financially. This transaction reinforces our conviction in the value and power of local news, adding 31 publications with deep roots in their communities, enabling Lee to serve even more readers and advertisers. Further, this transaction allowed Lee to address our long-term debt on attractive terms while deepening our relationship with Berkshire Hathaway – now our sole lender – to enable more flexibility as we continue to invest in our business with a digital-first mindset. We join our shareholders, publishers, employees and audiences in their excitement about this transaction and the opportunities that lie ahead for Lee.”

Kevin Mowbray, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Lee today leads the industry in digital revenue growth and operating performance, and this transaction unlocks new opportunities to grow our top line and further accelerate our digital transformation. After over 18 months of managing the BH Media Group publications, Lee looks forward to leveraging our deep knowledge of this portfolio to drive further efficiencies across our expanded and integrated operation. This transition, which is already underway, is underpinned by shared values and an alignment around our mission to deliver high-quality local news. We are confident that we have the right strategy and operational expertise to realize the full benefits of this transaction for our readers, advertisers, shareholders and communities we serve.”

© 2020 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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