MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

February 25, 2013

Warren Buffett’s firm buys Tulsa World

— OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway said Monday that it is buying the Tulsa World, bringing its newspaper unit to 28 small- or medium-sized dailies.

The privately held Tulsa newspaper has a daily circulation of 95,000. The sale was reported Monday by the Tulsa World and Berkshire’s Omaha World-Herald, whose executives oversee the company’s newspapers.

Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in March, weren’t disclosed.

Terry Kroeger, who runs Berkshire’s newspapers, said the Tulsa paper will be a great fit. “The Tulsa World is a special newspaper in an outstanding market and we are honored to have the opportunity to own it,” Kroeger said in a statement.

Buffett did not immediately respond to a message Monday about the Tulsa World acquisition.

The chairman of the World Publishing Company, which owns the Tulsa World, said selling to Berkshire would provide a secure future for the Tulsa newspaper.

“Our family takes great pride in the Tulsa World and its many years of service to Tulsa and Oklahoma,” Robert Lorton Jr. said. “The newspaper business has become a difficult business model within a changing society and in particular for local family owned newspapers.”

Besides daily newspapers, Berkshire owns 40 other newspapers that publish less frequently and other monthly publications and regional magazines. The growing media chain owns newspapers in Nebraska, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida.

Berkshire bought 63 Media General newspapers last year for $142 million to launch its newspaper unit. At the end of 2012, Berkshire did close the Manassas News & Messenger, a Virginia newspaper, because it was struggling to compete in the Washington suburbs.

But Berkshire has continued buying newspapers since then with the addition of the Greensboro, N.C., News & Record last month, and now the Tulsa World.

Buffett has said newspapers that are the primary source of information about their communities will continue delivering decent returns. Buffett, who is Berkshire’s chairman and chief executive, has said he won’t try to influence the newspapers’ editorial policies.

Newspapers are still a relatively small part of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns an assortment of more than 80 subsidiaries and holds major stakes in companies like Coca-Cola Co., Wells Fargo and IBM.

Berkshire’s subsidiaries include Geico and General Reinsurance, BNSF railroad, MidAmerican Energy utility, Fruit of the Loom, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Dairy Queen and many others.

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