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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to buy Washington Post for $250 mn

BT Online Bureau     August 6, 2013
Jeffrey P Bezos, Amazon founder and chief executive officer, has struck a deal to buy the newspaper assets of The Washington Post Company for $250 million.

The deal that was announced on Monday would be Bezos's maiden entry into the newspaper industry, which in the last few years has seen a decline in circulation and a drastic drop in print revenue.

Associated Press says: Bezos pioneered online shopping, first by selling books out of his Seattle garage in 1995, then with just about everything else. In doing so, he has amassed a $25 billion personal fortune, based on the most recent estimates by Forbes magazine.

This will be uncharted terrain and it will require experimentation," Bezos said in an interview to the Post.

"There would be change with or without new ownership. But the key thing I hope people will take away from this is that the values of The Post do not need changing. The duty of the paper is to the readers, not the owners," he said.

"This is a day that my family and I never expected to come.

The Washington Post Company is selling the newspaper that it has owned and nurtured for eight decades," The Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth, said in a note to Post employees.

However, Seattle-based Amazon will have no role in the purchase; Bezos himself will buy the news organisation and become its sole owner when the sale is completed, probably within 60 days, the Post reported.

According to the daily, while the discussion in this regard was going on for the past six months now, very few people were aware about it.

For much of the past decade, however, the paper, whose reporters have broken such stories as the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate scandals and disclosures about the National Security Administration's surveillance programme in May, has been unable to escape the financial turmoil that has engulfed newspapers and other "legacy" media organisations.

"The rise of the Internet and the epochal change from print to digital technology have created a massive wave of competition for traditional news companies, scattering readers and advertisers across a radically altered news and information landscape and triggering mergers, bankruptcies and consolidation among the owners of print and broadcasting properties," the daily said.

"Every member of my family started out with the same emotion-shock-in even thinking about.

But when the idea of a transaction with Jeff Bezos came up, it altered my feelings," said Donald Graham, the Post Co's chief executive.

"The Post could have survived under the company's ownership and been profitable for the foreseeable future. But we wanted to do more than survive.

I'm not saying this guarantees success but it gives us a much greater chance of success," said Graham whose family held the newspaper for four generations.

Graham called Bezos a "uniquely good new owner." He said the decision was made after years of newspaper industry challenges. The company, which owns the Kaplan education business and several TV stations, will change its name but didn't say what the new name will be.

The news surprised industry observers and even the newspaper's employees.

With PTI and AP inputs

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