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Berkshire Hathaway sells to Lee

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett has apparently given up on newspapers.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based financial company is selling its BH Media Group, which includes 30 newspapers and more than 49 paid weekly publications, and The Buffalo News, a newspaper Buffett has owned since 1977.

Lee Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa, which had managed Berkshire’s media group for the last 18 months, will pay $140 million for the assets. The financing comes from about $576 million Berkshire is loaning Lee Enterprises to refinance $400 million in long-term debt. Berkshire will become Lee’s sole lender.

Buffett said Lee Enterprises had shown an ability to outpace competitors in revenue and digital market share. “We had zero interest in selling the group to anyone else for one simple reason: We believe that Lee is best positioned to manage through the industry’s challenges,” he said in a statement accompanying the sale’s announcement.

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Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett, a lifelong newspaper reader and owner, has apparently given up on newspapers and is selling its more than 30 publications to Lee Enterprises for $140 million.

“No organization is more committed to serving the vital role of high-quality local news, however delivered, as Lee,” Buffett continued. “I am confident that our newspapers will be in the right hands going forward and I also am pleased to be deepening our long-term relationship with Lee through the financing agreement.”

A newspaper delivery boy as a teen, Buffett has been a lifelong voracious newspaper reader reading as many as five a day. But he knew the industry faced massive challenges.

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