Bullish billionaire Warren Buffett, saying that he’s "extremely bullish on [his hometown] Omaha, Nebraska," has bought one of the major media properties in Omaha, Reuters reports.
According to the report, "Buffett’s conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway said it would buy the Omaha World-Herald Co, owner of the paper of the same name, six other dailies and a series of weekly papers in Nebraska and Iowa."
The report says the World-Herald Co. is "80 percent owned by employees and 20 percent by the Peter Kiewit Foundation. The paper reported that Buffett would pay $150 million cash, or about $1,109 per subscriber, and assume $50 million in debt."
Adds the article, " ‘I wouldn’t do this if I thought this was doomed to some sort of extinction,’ the paper said Buffett told a gathering of employees. ‘It is a reasonable investment. There is no question it is affected by the fact that I am extremely bullish on Omaha, Nebraska.’ "
Buffett also said, according to the story, " ‘I think newspapers … have a decent future. It won’t be like the past. But there are still a lot of things newspapers can do better than any other media. They not only can be sustained, but are important,’ he was quoted as saying."
The Reuters article also noted that in the past Buffett has not been as sanguine about the newspaper business, saying, "Buffett has said that U.S. newspapers face years of ‘nearly unending losses’ because they lack a sustainable business model."
The story also notes that Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway "[I]s no stranger to the newspaper business. The company bought the Buffalo News in New York in 1977 and has operated it since, though Buffett said in 2009 his owning the paper was not entirely rational. Buffett was also a long-time board member of the Washington Post Co and a confidante of legendary publisher Katharine Graham."