August 5, 2013 (TSR) – The Washington Post Co. on Monday announced it has agreed to sell its flagship newspaper to Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, ending the Graham family’s control of one of the leading news organizations in the United States after four generations.
According to the Washington Post, Bezos will pay 250 million U. S. dollars in cash for the Washington Post and affiliated publications to the Washington Post Co., which owns the newspaper and other businesses.
Seattle-based Amazon will have no role in the purchase; Bezos himself will buy the news organization and become its sole owner when the sale is completed, probably within 60 days. The Washington Post Co. will change to a new, still-undecided name and continue as a publicly traded company without The Washington Post thereafter.
“The Post could have survived under the company’s ownership and been profitable for the foreseeable future. But we wanted to do more than survive. I’m not saying this guarantees success but it gives us a much greater chance of success,” said Donald Graham, the Washington Post Co.’s chief executive.
For much of the past decade, the Washington Post has been unable to escape the financial turmoil that has engulfed newspapers. The rise of the Internet and the epochal change from print to digital technology have created a massive wave of competition for traditional news companies, scattering readers and advertisers across a radically altered news and information landscape and triggering mergers, bankruptcies and consolidation among the owners of print and broadcasting properties, according to a report by Washington Post on Monday.
The Washington Post Co.’s newspaper division, of which the Washington Post newspaper is the most prominent part, has suffered a 44 percent decline in operating revenue over the past six years. Print circulation has dwindled, too, falling another 7 percent daily and Sundays during the first half of this year.
Ultimately, the paper’s financial challenges prompted the company’s board to consider a sale.
According to a report by the paper, Graham hired the investment firm Allen & Co. to shop the paper. Allen’s representatives spoke with a half-dozen potential suitors before the board settled on Bezos, 49, a legendary tech innovator who has never operated a newspaper.
The deal represents a sudden and stunning turn of events for The Post, whose reporters have broken such stories as the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate scandals and disclosures about the National Security Administration’s surveillance program in May.