Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Berkshire Hathaway and Vanguard biggest investors in newspaper companies

3/7/11, "Who owns newspaper companies? The banks, funds, and investors and their (big) slices of the industry," Nieman Journalism Lab, by Martin Langeveld
  • "Which investors are making the biggest bets in the newspaper business? To find out, I aggregated and ranked the total newspaper holdings of all of the top investors in each company. Here’s the result (leaving out News Corp., as noted above):
Berkshire Hathaway’s Washington Post Company holding, it turns out, is the biggest single investment in U.S. newspapers, with a current value of $759 million. Not far behind, though, is Vanguard, Washington Post, A.H. Belo, Gannett, Journal Communications, McClatchy, New York Times, Scripps, Media General, and Lee Enterprises. If this were one big company,
  • Vanguard would own 6.74 percent of it.

As Wall Street investments go, though, Vanguard’s across-the-board bet on newspapers is smaller than a rounding error — it has $1.4 trillion in invested assets, so its newspaper holdings are about 1/20th of a percent of its investments. And, to put the U.S. publishers in perspective versus the News Corp. juggernaut,

  • Vanguard’s investment in News Corp. alone is worth $2.5 billion.

After Berkshire Hathaway and Vanguard, the list drops quickly to smaller investments by JP Morgan Chase ($543 million), Ariel Investments ($497 million), and BlackRock ($335 million). (BlackRock, with $3.6 trillion under management, is the world’s largest money manager and the sixth-largest owner of Gannett stock.)...

Generally, at all of these companies, the total institutional/mutual fund ownership is between 60 and 90 percent;

  • insiders hold no more than single-digit percentages in the aggregate.
Conclusion: While Alden and others, using MediaNews as a base of operations, may be looking to engineer some mergers, consolidations, and realignments in the distressed sector, they don’t have a significant enough toehold in the more stable public sector
  • to have a similar impact there."...
via Poynter.org/Romenesko

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