Lee Enterprises

Lee Enterprises is a publicly traded American media company. It publishes 77 daily newspapers in 26 states,[3] and more than 350 weekly, classified, and specialty publications.[4] Lee Enterprises was founded in 1890 by Alfred Wilson Lee[3] and is based in Davenport, Iowa.[5]

Lee Enterprises
Russell Microcap Index component
FounderA.W. Lee
HeadquartersDavenport, Iowa
Key people
Mary Junck
Kevin Mowbray
(President and CEO)
ProductsNewspapers and television station
RevenueDecrease US$566.9 million (2017)[1]
Decrease US$92.55 million (2017)[1]
Decrease US$27.48 million (2017)[1]
Total assetsDecrease US$620.9 million (2017)[1]
Number of employees
Decrease 3,597[2]

The company also provides online services, including websites supporting its daily newspapers and other publications. Lee had more than 25[3] million unique web and mobile visitors monthly, with 209.1 million pages viewed. Lee became majority partner of TownNews.com in 1996;[5] Town News creates software for newspaper publication purposes. The company offers commercial printing services to its customers.[5]

Lee Enterprises is currently the fourth largest newspaper group in the United States of America. The company acquired Howard Publications (16 daily newspapers) for $694 million in 2002[6] and Pulitzer, Inc. (14 daily, over 100 non-daily), for $1.5 billion in 2005.[7]

From January 2012 to April 2017, the company's executive chairman, Mary Junck, was chairman of the Associated Press.[8] In December 2018, Lee Enterprises announced that Mary Junck would transition from Executive Chairman to Chairman of the company.[9]

In January 2020, Lee Enterprises announced an agreement with Berkshire Hathaway to acquire BH Media Group's publications and The Buffalo News for $140 million in cash.[10][11]

In November 2021, global hedge fund Alden Global Capital made an offer to acquire Lee Enterprises for $24 per share, or about $141 million.[12] In response, the board of Lee Enterprises enacted a shareholder rights plan, colloquially known as a "poison pill", in order to ward off the purchase attempt.[4]

Earlier the same month, the U.S. Department of Justice alleged two Iranian nationals had accessed the company's content management software in the fall of 2020 with a view to publishing false news about the presidential election. [13]


Sale of television subsidiaryEdit

Lee operated a broadcasting division, which it sold in 2000 to pay off debt and in order to focus on newspaper publishing. Most of the TV stations were sold to Emmis Communications,[14] and have all been sold, as of 2007, to other companies.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy and bailout reorganizationEdit

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011.[15] It emerged from bankruptcy less than two months later. In April 2012, Warren Buffett took a stake in Lee Enterprises (through Berkshire Hathaway Inc.), buying $85 million of the company's debt from Goldman Sachs Group.[16]

In June 2012, Berkshire Hathaway filed an amended Form 13F (13F-HR/A) for the period ending March 31, 2012.[17] This document disclosed that Berkshire accumulated $2,119,000 or 1,655,125 common shares of Lee Enterprises, or a 3.2 percent stake.[18] The document noted that the confidentiality of this transaction was requested but denied by the SEC on May 25, 2012.[19]

Debt recapitalizationEdit

In April 2013, Lee Enterprises announced that Berkshire Hathaway refinanced the remaining Pulitzer acquisition debt equating to $94 million.[20] Lee Enterprises incurred no cost for doing this. The collateral involved was the TNI Partner stake including the Arizona Daily Star and azstarnet.com. The result of this was a reduction in interest from a variable rate of 11.3% to a fixed rate of 9% while at the same time extending the debt maturity date of the debt from December 2015 to April 2017. At the time of the announcement Lee Enterprises noted they had $893 million left to pay off. Lee paid off and retired its New Pulitzer notes in June 2015, 6 months before the original maturity date and 22 months before the new maturity date. Lee also refinanced its remaining debt in 2014 in order to extend the maturities from 2015 and 2017 to 2019 and 2022. Lee retired its 1st Lien Term Loan in November 2018, four months before its scheduled March 2019 maturity.

On June 27, 2018, Lee Enterprises and Berkshire Hathaway reached a five-year agreement to allow Lee Enterprises to manage Berkshire Hathaway's newspaper and digital operations.[21]

BH Media Group acquisitionEdit

Lee Enterprises announced an agreement to buy Berkshire Hathaway’s BH Media Group publications and The Buffalo News for $140 million cash on January 29, 2020. The acquisition comprises 30 daily newspapers in 10 states plus 49 paid weekly publications with digital sites, as well as 32 other additional print products. Daily papers include Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska, Tulsa World in Oklahoma, and Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina. Lee enters into a 10-year lease for BH Media’s real estate as part of the agreement.[22]

To finance the acquisition, Berkshire Hathaway provided $576 million in long-term financing to Lee at 9% per annum. Lee Enterprises used those funds to pay for the Berkshire properties and refinance its roughly $400 million in existing debt. Much of this remains from the purchase of Pulitzer Inc. for $1.5 billion in 2005.[23] Berkshire became Lee’s sole lender after the deal closed on March 16, 2020.[22]

“We had zero interest in selling the group to anyone else for one simple reason: We believe that Lee is best positioned to manage through the industry’s challenges,” Warren Buffett said in a statement.[24]


Lee Enterprises owns 77 daily newspapers and approximately 350 specialty publications in 26 states.[25] The company's portfolio grew substantially, nearly doubling its audience size, with the acquisition of BH Media Group's publications in early 2020, including the Omaha World-Herald, Richmond Times-Dispatch and Tulsa World.[22]

In January 2020, Lee Enterprises sold newspaper and digital media operations in southern Oregon to Country Media, Inc. The sale included The World (Coos Bay), the Bandon Western World and The Umpqua Post. Lee had purchased the papers as part of its acquisition of Pulitzer, Inc. in 2005.[26][27]

In March 2020, Lee sold the Santa Maria Times, The Lompoc Record, The Hanford Sentinel and the Santa Ynez Valley News to Santa Maria News Media Inc., a newly formed company led by a group of Canadian newspaper executives.[28]

Other publications Lee has formerly owned include the North County Times, The Garden Island, The Provo Daily Herald, Daily Chronicle, Rhinelander Daily News, Shawano Leader, and The Ledger Independent of Maysville, KY.

Daily newspapersEdit


State City Newspaper
Alabama Dothan Dothan Eagle
Opelika Opelika-Auburn News
Arizona Flagstaff Arizona Daily Sun
Tucson Arizona Daily Star
California Napa Napa Valley Register
Idaho Twin Falls Times-News
Illinois Bloomington The Pantagraph
Carbondale The Southern Illinoisan
Decatur Herald & Review
Quad Cities The Dispatch / The Rock Island Argus
Mattoon & Charleston Journal Gazette / Times-Courier
Indiana Munster (Northwest Indiana) The Times of Northwest Indiana
Iowa Clarinda Clarinda Herald-Journal
Council Bluffs The Daily Nonpareil
Davenport Quad-City Times
Denison Denison Bulletin & Review
Mason City Globe Gazette
Muscatine Muscatine Journal
Shenandoah The Valley News
Sioux City Sioux City Journal
Waterloo The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
Woodbine/Logan Twiner-Herald
Missouri Park Hills Daily Journal
St. Louis St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Minnesota Winona Winona Daily News
Montana Billings Billings Gazette
Butte The Montana Standard
Hamilton Ravalli Republic
Helena Independent Record
Missoula Missoulian
Nebraska Beatrice Beatrice Daily Sun
Columbus Columbus Telegram
Fremont Fremont Tribune
Grand Island The Grand Island Independent
Lincoln Lincoln Journal Star
Kearney Kearney Hub
Lexington Lexington Clipper-Herald
North Platte The North Platte Telegraph
Omaha Omaha World-Herald
Scottsbluff Star-Herald
Wahoo Wahoo Newspaper
York York News-Times
Nevada Elko Elko Daily Free Press
New Jersey Atlantic City The Press of Atlantic City
New York Auburn The Citizen
Buffalo The Buffalo News
Glens Falls The Post-Star
North Carolina Concord Independent Tribune
Greensboro News & Record
Hickory Hickory Daily Record
Marion The McDowell News
Morganton The News Herald
Mooresville Mooresville Tribune
Statesville Statesville Record & Landmark
Winston-Salem Winston-Salem Journal
North Dakota Bismarck The Bismarck Tribune
Oklahoma Tulsa Tulsa World
Oregon Albany Albany Democrat-Herald
Corvallis Corvallis Gazette-Times
Lebanon Lebanon Express
Pennsylvania Carlisle The Sentinel
South Carolina Florence The Morning News
Orangeburg The Times and Democrat
South Dakota Rapid City Rapid City Journal
Texas Bryan-College Station The Eagle
Waco Waco Tribune-Herald
Virginia Bristol Bristol Herald Courier
Charlottesville The Daily Progress
Culpeper Culpeper Star-Exponent
Danville Danville Register & Bee
Fredericksburg The Free Lance–Star
Lynchburg The News & Advance
Martinsville Martinsville Bulletin
Richmond Richmond Times-Dispatch
Roanoke The Roanoke Times
Rocky Mount The Franklin News-Post
Waynesboro The News Virginian
Washington Longview The Daily News
Wisconsin Chippewa Falls The Chippewa Herald
Kenosha Kenosha News
La Crosse La Crosse Tribune
Madison Wisconsin State Journal
Racine Racine Journal Times
Wyoming Casper The Casper Journal
Casper Casper Star-Tribune


  1. ^ a b c d "Lee Enterprises, Inc. 10-K 2017".
  2. ^ Lee Enterprises Inc.: publishing, newspapers, online, shoppers, classified, specialty publications
  3. ^ a b c Enterprises, Lee. "About". Lee Enterprises. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  4. ^ a b Mullin, Benjamin (November 24, 2021). "Lee Enterprises Enacts Poison Pill to Guard Against Alden Takeover". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c TownNews.com. "About TownNews.com". TownNews.com. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  6. ^ "Lee Enterprises Buys Howard Publications". Editor & Publisher. February 2, 2002. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  7. ^ Steinberg, Jacques (February 1, 2005). "Pulitzer to Be Acquired by Lee Enterprises". New York Times. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  8. ^ ""Mary Junck of Lee Enterprises named new AP board chairman", Associated Press press release, January 26, 2012". Archived from the original on 2015-05-05. Retrieved 2015-05-06.
  9. ^ "Mary Junck moves to chairman of Lee Enterprises". Lee Enterprises. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  10. ^ "Lee Press Release". The Daily Progress. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
  11. ^ https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2020-01-29/warren-buffett-throws-in-the-towel-on-his-newspaper-empire
  12. ^ "https://twitter.com/sarafischer/status/1462800938490552323". Twitter. Retrieved 2021-11-22. External link in |title= (help)
  13. ^ Volz, Dustin (2021-11-19). "WSJ News Exclusive | Iranian Hackers Broke Into Newspaper Publisher Lee Enterprises Ahead of 2020 Election". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-11-24.
  14. ^ "Lee Enterprises Inc.: publishing, newspapers, online, shoppers, class…". archive.is. 2013-02-21. Archived from the original on 2013-02-21. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  15. ^ "Newspaper group Lee Enterprises files for bankruptcy", Thomson Reuters, December 12, 2011.
  16. ^ "Warren Buffett Building Newspaper Empire? - Deal Journal -". blogs.wsj.com. 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
  17. ^ "Berkshire Hathaway SEC Archives March 31, 2012 13F-HR/A amendment"
  18. ^ "Shares of Lee Enterprises Surge After Buffett Buys Stake". New York Times. Reuters. June 6, 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  19. ^ Kraut, Dan (June 5, 2012). "Buffett's Berkshire Discloses Stake In Lee Enterprises". Bloomberg. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  20. ^ "Lee Enterprises refinances $94 million in debt". nwitimes.com. April 30, 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Warren Buffett loves his newspapers, he just wants someone else to manage them for him". cnbc.com. June 26, 2018. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  22. ^ a b c staff and wire. "Post-Dispatch owner Lee Enterprises makes $140M deal to buy Berkshire newspapers". stltoday.com. Retrieved 2020-01-30.
  23. ^ "Lee Enterprises Buys Pulitzer for $1.46 Billion". Los Angeles Times. 2005-02-01. Retrieved 2020-01-30.
  24. ^ Chiglinsky, Katherine; Edwards III, John J. (2020-01-29). "Warren Buffett Says Goodbye to His Struggling Newspaper Business". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2020-01-30.
  25. ^ "Lee announces grant program to provide marketing assistance to local businesses impacted by COVID-19". Lee Enterprises. April 20, 2020.
  26. ^ "Lee Enterprises sells media assets in Coos Bay". Coos Bay World. Retrieved 2020-02-03.
  27. ^ Dirks, Van Essen, Murray & April (January 25, 2020). "Sale of Coos Bay World Announced". Faorfield (MT) Times.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  28. ^ Report, Santa Maria Times Staff. "Lee Enterprises sells papers in Santa Maria, Hanford". Santa Maria Times. Retrieved 2020-03-15.
  29. ^ "Daily Print and Digital". Lee Enterprises. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

External linksEdit