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Potential Newsweek Buyers Officially Come Forward

Newsmax, private equity players submit formal declarations of interest.



By Jason Fell
06/03/2010

Several parties have submitted official declarations of interest to the Washington Post Company in regard to a potential acquisition of ailing Newsweek magazine. Although a company spokesperson declined to say exactly how many notifications were submitted prior to Wednesday’s deadline, Newsmax Media, private equity firm OpenGate Capital and Ritchie Capital Management founder Thane Ritchie all confirmed separately that they were among those that did.

In a statement e-mailed to FOLIO:, conservative monthly Newsmax confirmed its contact with the Washington Post Co., stating that its interest in acquiring Newsweek “is congruent with its objective to diversify and expand into numerous distinct media brand offerings.” Newsmax said that if its bid is successful it would not shut liberal-leaning Newsweek down. “Newsweek’s staff, advertisers and readers can be assured that … [the magazine’s] stellar brand and editorial representation would remain distinct from our other brands.”

Also among those who submitted a formal declaration is private equity manager Thane Ritchie, his spokesperson said in an e-mail. Last year, Ritchie unsuccessfully attempted to acquire the Sun Times Media Group.

And according to the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles-based private equity firm OpenGate Capital is in the mix for Newsweek, too. OpenGate managing partner Andrew Nikou, who indicated to FOLIO: several weeks ago that the firm would be making a bid for Newsweek, did not immediately return a request seeking comment.

OpenGate is arguably most noted for acquiring the print edition of TV Guide from Macrovision in 2008 for just $1. Since then, the firm has been active in 2010, announcing three additional acquisitions through April.

Others who may also have contacted the Washington Post Co., including editor-in-chief John Meacham and entertainment industry billionaire Haim Saban, could not be reached for comment.

The Washington Post Co. said last month that it had hired media and entertainment investment bankers Allen & Company to explore a sale of ailing Newsweek, which is expected to continue losing money this year. In 2009, Washington Post Co.’s magazine division, (which also included Budget Travel, until it sold in December) reported an operating loss of $29.3 million.

Presumably, the next step is for the interested parties to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to take a deeper look at Newsweek’s business.

By Jason Fell
06/03/2010




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