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American Media exploring sale of National Enquirer, other tabloids

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American Media Inc. is exploring the sale of several tabloids — including the embattled National Enquirer— the company said on Wednesday.

“American Media, LLC today announced that its Board concluded its strategic operational review of its tabloid business, which began last August, and has resulted in the decision to explore strategic options for its National Enquirer (US and UK editions), Globe and National Examiner brands, which will likely result in their sale in the near future,” according to a Wednesday-night press release.

The release came shortly after a Washington Post report, which said that pressure to sell the tabloids came from hedge fund manager Anthony Melchiorre of Chatham Asset Management, which holds 80% of AMI shares. Melichiorre was “disgusted” with the National Enquirer’s reporting practices, a source told The Post.

American Media has been in both financial and legal straits over the past several years. The publisher faces shrinking newsstand sales and growing debt. In January 2019, the company announced that it “successfully completed the refinancing of all of its outstanding debt capital structure by raising $460 million.”

The company is also under the scrutiny of the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. In September 2018, the company’s CEO David Pecker and Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard reached a non-prosecution deal with federal prosecutors.

In addition, American Media admitted to paying $150,000 to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy bunny, who claimed to have had an affair with Donald Trump in a “catch and kill” deal, “to ensure that a woman did not publicize damaging allegations about that candidate before the 2016 election and thereby influence that election.” Pecker is a close personal friend of President Trump.

In January of this year, the tabloid also published an expose on Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and a reported affair with former news anchor Lauren Sanchez — including publishing private text messages. Bezos fired back at American Media in a blog post on Medium claiming that the company said they would publish personal photos of Bezos if he did not say that he didn’t think the expose was politically motivated.

Read more: Behind on Jeff Bezos’ beef with the National Enquirer? Here’s the complete timeline of the feud to catch you up

Bezos’ allegations have reportedly led to the SDNY to investigate whether American Media violated its non-prosecution agreement, Bloomberg reported. According to CNN, as soon as this week, Bezos will meet in New York with federal prosecutors.

Pecker cited different reasoning for the potential sale in the company’s statement.

“We have been keenly focused on leveraging the popularity of our celebrity glossy, teen and active lifestyle brands while developing new and robust platforms including broadcast and audio programming, and a live events business, that now deliver significant revenue streams,” Pecker said. “Because of this focus, we feel the future opportunities with the tabloids can be best exploited by a different ownership.”

Last June, American Media purchased 13 titles from Bauer Media; in 2017 the company purchased US Weekly and Men’s Journal from Wenner Media.

Business Insider contacted both American Media and Chatham Asset Management for more information — including about possible buyers — and we will update as necessary.

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