Newspapers in Hickory, Statesville and Concord will be sold to Berkshire Hathaway, controlled by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, in a deal announced Thursday by Media General.
In all, Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway will acquire 63 newspapers owned by Media General for $142 million. Media General has been looking to shed its print properties to concentrate on its 18 broadcast properties, which include WNCN, the NBC affiliate in Raleigh, and WSPA, the CBS affiliate in Spartanburg.
In the Carolinas, newspapers owned by Richmond, Va.-based Media General include the Winston-Salem Journal, Hickory Daily Record, Independent Tribune in Concord, Statesville Record & Landmark, Morganton News Herald, Mooresville Tribune and Florence, S.C., Morning News.
Each newspaper’s online operation is included in the sale, expected to close on June 25.
Berkshire Hathaway will also provide Media General with a $400 million term loan with an interest rate of 10.5 percent, which will be used to repay bank debt due in March 2013.
Media General’s Tampa Tribune, expected to be sold separately, is not part of the deal. BH Media Group, which holds the Omaha World-Herald Co. newspapers, will operate the Media General publications, which include magazines and weeklies in the Southeast.
“In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution than the local paper,” Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway’s chairman, said in a statement. “Locales served by the newspapers we are acquiring fall firmly in this mold and we are delighted they have found a permanent home with Berkshire Hathaway.”
In April, Media General reported a first quarter loss of $34 million vs. $26 million in the same quarter of 2011.