National Enquirer sold to newsstand chain Hudson News for $100M: Report
Tabloid has faced cash crunch ever since it picked a fight with Jeff Bezos
American Media Inc. (AMI) is selling its tabloid the National Enquirer for $100 million US to James Cohen, chief executive of Hudson News, the Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the agreement.
The National Enquirer had admitted to paying hush money to help U.S. President Donald Trump get elected and been accused of attempting to blackmail Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
The weekly tabloid along with two sister publications, the Globe and the National Examiner, will be purchased by the head of Hudson News known for its airport newsstands, Associated Press later confirmed.
The sale is expected to reduce AMI's debt to $355 million, the Washington Post report said.
American Media said last week that it wanted to get out of the tabloid business to focus on its other operations, which includes its teen brand and broadcast platforms.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan agreed last year not to prosecute American Media in exchange for the company's co-operation in the campaign finance investigation. That probe eventually led to a three-year prison term for Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen for campaign violations among other charges.
Last week, the New York Times reported that owners of the National Enquirer were in talks to sell the tabloid to the California billionaire Ronald Burkle.
According to media reports, Paul Pope, one of the heirs of the National Enquirer founder Generoso Pope Jr, had also been in the list of bidders.
On Tuesday, Pope, according to the New York Post, dropped his bid to buy the supermarket tabloid from AMI.
Over its 92-year history, the National Enquirer has enticed readers in supermarket checkout lines with sensational headlines and photos about celebrities. The tabloid's website claims it reaches an audience of five million.
Earlier in February, Amazon.com Inc. CEO Bezos accused the publication of threatening to publish intimate photos.
An American Media attorney denied the tabloid engaged in blackmail, but the attack from Bezos threatened potentially big legal costs, possibly upending American Media's non-prosecution agreement with prosecutors.
The Associated Press reported in February that prosecutors were looking into whether the publisher violated terms of the deal, which included a promise not to break any laws in the future.
The Bezos attack came at a difficult time for the company. It had financed several recent acquisitions with borrowed money and was struggling under a heavy debt load.
With files from the Associated Press