Half-Dozen Suitors Considered for Post

By Mila Mimica
|  Friday, Aug 23, 2013  |  Updated 12:31 PM EDT
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News4's Tom Sherwood has the latest details in the $250 million sale of the Washington Post Monday. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos purchased the newspaper, and several other print holdings.

Tom Sherwood

News4's Tom Sherwood has the latest details in the $250 million sale of the Washington Post Monday. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos purchased the newspaper, and several other print holdings.

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos purchased The Washington Post Company's newspaper publishing business with a pricetag of $250 million, the company announced Monday.

The announcement was made during an abrupt staff meeting Monday afternoon, ending a four-generation ownership streak by the Graham family. No layoffs are planned, according to the Post.

“[We] decided to sell only after years of familiar newspaper-industry challenges made us wonder if there might be another owner who would be better for the Post ... Bezos’ proven technology and business genius, his long-term approach and his personal decency make him a uniquely good new owner for the Post," the Post Company's chairman and CEO Donald E. Graham said in a statement released Monday.

The Post reports few people were aware of the "sudden and stunning" sale. Graham, whose family has owned the paper for more than 80  years, reportedly hired investment firm Allen & Co. to "shop the paper" -- half-dozen potential investors were considered in the process.

Bezos -- who has never operated a newspaper -- has reportedly asked the Post's publisher Katharine Weymouth, its president and general manager Stephen Hills, its executive editor Martin Baron and its editorial page editor Fred Hiatt to remain in their current roles. 

"For me, this is very emotional," former executive editor Leonard Downie said. "It is the end of an era in terms of the Graham family's involvement with the paper. They made it what it is today."

In a statement, Bezos said he will remain in Seattle and delegate day-to-day operations to current, local managers.

"I have a fantastic day job that I love," 49-year-old Bezos said.

But the Bezos-Graham relationship may not be as unexpected as initially thought -- Graham reportedly advised Bezos on featuring newspapers on the Kindle, Amazon.com's popular e-reader. Bezos started the website as an online bookstore 19 years ago with a $300,000 loan from his parents. The retail company has come a long way since -- ringing up an astounding $61 billion in sales last year, selling anything from clothing to electronics to home goods and everything between.

Weymouth, who has held her post for five years, reduced staff, shut bureaus in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and eliminated Sunday's Book World section in an effort to cut costs and turn profits.

The Post has suffered a 44 percent decline in operating revenue during the past six years. Print circulation fell 7 percent daily and Sundays during the first half of 2013, according to the release.

The sale includes the Express newspaper, The Gazette Newspapers, Southern Maryland Newspapers, Fairfax County Times, El Tiempo Latino and Greater Washington Publishing. It does not include Slate magazine, TheRoot.com and Foreign Policy, which will remain with the Post Company, according to a release. The company will also keep certain real estate assets, including the newspaper's downtown D.C. headquarters building.

As part of the sale, the Post Company will be changing its name.

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