Buffett taps Lee Enterprises to manage many of his Berkshire newspapers

  • Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has hired Lee Enterprises to manage its newspaper and digital operations in 30 markets.
  • Buffett is hoping to boost readership and draw more advertisers as print circulation declines.
  • The five-year agreement calls for Lee to be paid $5 million a year plus a share of profits. It takes effect on July 2.
Warren Buffet walks the floor at the 2018 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder's Meeting in Omaha, NE on May 5th, 2018.
Lacy O'Toole | CNBC
Warren Buffet walks the floor at the 2018 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder's Meeting in Omaha, NE on May 5th, 2018.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has hired Lee Enterprises to manage its newspaper and digital operations in 30 markets, hoping to boost readership and draw more advertisers as print circulation declines.

Berkshire said on Tuesday it will continue to own BH Media Group, which owns 30 daily newspapers, including its hometown Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska, and 47 weekly newspapers.

The five-year agreement calls for Lee to be paid $5 million a year plus a share of profits. It takes effect on July 2.

“I love our newspapers and am passionate about the vital role they serve in our communities,” Buffett said in a statement. “Although the challenges in publishing are clear, I believe we can benefit by joining efforts.”

Lee shares rose about 33 percent to $3.20 in premarket trading. The Davenport, Iowa-based company said it publishes 46 daily newspapers and nearly 300 specialty publications in 21 U.S. states.

Print circulation has dropped at many Berkshire-owned newspapers, which also include the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Tulsa World in Oklahoma.

Buffett lamented at Berkshire’s annual meeting on May 5 that only The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and perhaps the Washington Post had come up with a digital model that could overcome declines in print ad revenue.