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Ron Burkle in talks to snap up the Enquirer: NYT
Posted on Friday, 12 April 2019 13:42
In what could be a page turning development for the newspaper, billionaire investor Ron Burkle is said to be in discussions to potentially acquire the National Enquirer, three people close to the matter told the New York Times (NYT).

According to these sources, who wished to remain anonymous, a deal is not guaranteed to take place.

News of a potential acquisition comes a day after American Media, which owns the Enquirer, concluded a strategic review of its business and announced it was exploring options, including a possible sale of the newspaper.

Burkle and his private equity firm, Yucaipa Companies, did not respond to questions initially from NYT, but representatives said yesterday that the billionaire was not pursuing a deal.

Two people told the newspaper that the mogul’s team was not happy with details of the discussions being made public by American Media.

However, NYT noted that the Enquirer’s owner was still pressing for negotiations to continue.

Founded in 1926, the target is a supermarket tabloid which provides up-to-the-second celebrity news, gossip and other events in Hollywood.

At the time of its review, American Media said it considering divesting the newspaper to focus on new platforms such as broadcast and audio programming.

This would not be the first time Burkle has contemplated buying a news media business, after making a bid for the Wall Street Journal back in 2007, and being involved in a failed USD 500.00 million takeover of the Weinstein Company last year.

However, a potential deal could prove controversial, due to the billionaire’s affiliations with Donald Trump, NYT noted.

American Media was involved in a scandal after not publishing a story bought for USD 150,000 from a Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with the current president, during Trump’s campaign in 2016.

The incident led to the news publisher being investigated by federal prosecutors, resulting in its chief executive, David Pecker, receiving an immunity deal for his role as a witness in the inquiry, NYT reported.

According to Zephyr, the M&A database published by Bureau van Dijk, there have been 149 deals targeting newspaper publishers announced worldwide since the beginning of 2018.

By far and away the largest deal involved Nextstar Media Group agreeing to snap up US-based Tribune Media for USD 6.40 billion in November last year.

© Zephus Ltd