American Media Inc. will sell the National Enquirer to the CEO of Hudson News. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
April 18 at 1:40 PM
Ending an association between a longtime friend of President Trump and the tabloid that favored him during the 2016 election, American Media Inc. is selling the National Enquirer for $100 million to James Cohen, CEO of Hudson News.
The supermarket tabloid, along with two sister publications, will be purchased by the head of the travel retailer known for its airport newsstands, according to people familiar with the agreement.
The decision to sell came after Anthony Melchiorre, the hedge fund manager whose firm controls AMI, became disillusioned with the reporting tactics of the Enquirer, which is overseen by David Pecker, Trump’s confidant dating back many years.
AMI has been under intense pressure because of the Enquirer’s efforts to tilt the 2016 presidential election in favor of Trump.
Pecker and his supermarket tabloid have also been embroiled in recent months in an unusually public feud with Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post.
The sale of AMI’s newsprint tabloid business, which also includes the National Examiner and the Globe, is expected to reduce AMI’s debt to $355 million, according to a person familiar with the company’s finances.
The company has faced financial difficulty as it sought to refinance more than $400 million in debt this year and as the Enquirer’s circulation continued to decline. The paper sold an average of 516,000 copies per issue in 2014, but that number fell to 218,000 in December, according to data compiled by the Alliance for Audited Media.
In addition to its shaky finances, AMI faced significant legal risk owing to the efforts of Pecker and his chief content officer, Dylan Howard, and their catch-and-kill efforts during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Pecker and Howard entered into non-prosecution agreements with federal investigators to avoid indictments for their role in buying and then burying the story of a former Playboy model who alleged having an affair with Trump.
In August, just as those top officers were finalizing their non-prosecution agreements, the company’s board of directors started looking for ways to unload the tabloid business “because they didn’t want to deal with hassles like this anymore,” said a person familiar with the board’s deliberations.