Media Oddity: Jeff Bezos Buys Washington Post Newspaper Assets

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The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO) has announced that Jeff Bezos is paying $250 million to acquire the Post’s newspaper publishing businesses, which of course includes the Washington Post newspaper. Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) is not the purchaser here, as the purchaser is an entity that belongs to Bezos in his individual capacity.

Monday’s transaction covers The Washington Post and other publishing businesses, including the Express newspaper, the Gazette newspapers, Southern Maryland newspapers, Fairfax County Times, El Tiempo Latino and Greater Washington Publishing. Again, this is not exactly Amazon.com getting into the newspaper publishing business.

The Post team said that Jeff Bezos is a proven technology and business genius, and they believe that his long-term approach and his personal decency “make him a uniquely good new owner for the Post.” Jeff Bezos said:

I understand the critical role the Post plays in Washington, DC and our nation, and the Post’s values will not change. Our duty to readers will continue to be the heart of the Post, and I am very optimistic about the future.

Bezos has asked Katharine Weymouth, CEO and publisher of The Washington Post; Stephen P. Hills, president and general manager; Martin Baron, executive editor; and Fred Hiatt, editor of the editorial page, to continue in those roles.

Katherine Weymouth will continue as CEO and publisher, and the release shows that the entire senior management team at all of the businesses being sold has been asked to continue in their roles as well.

The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO) will maintain ownership of Slate magazine, TheRoot.com and Foreign Policy. Also remaining a part of the company will be WaPo Labs and SocialCode, the interest in Classified Ventures and certain real estate assets (including the headquarters building in downtown Washington, DC). The Washington Post Company also owns Kaplan, Post–Newsweek Stations and Cable ONE.

The remaining assets under the company eventually will get a new parent name as a part of the transaction, but no new name to replace The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO) has yet been announced. The purchase price is $250 million as mentioned above, but the terms are said to be subject to normal working capital adjustments and will be payable at closing later this year.

Media mergers continue, and they are still remaining strange.