Newsweek sold by Washington Post Company 'for $1'

The Washington Post Company has agreed to sell its Newsweek magazine to Sidney Harman, the 91-year-old founder of one of the world’s biggest audio equipment producers.

Harman, founder and chairman emeritus of Harman International, is to take on the loss-making magazine in a deal that ends the near 50-year association between Newsweek and the Graham family, owners of the Post.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but the New York Times reported that Harman offered last week to pay $1 for the magazine.

The Washington Post Company said yesterday, however, that it retains the pension assets and liabilities and certain employee obligations arising prior to the sale.

Newsweek, which has in excess of 250 employees, was put up for sale in May after running up losses of almost $30 million (£19m) last year and the expectation it will make substantial losses in 2010.

Harman got his hands on the current affairs magazine after making assurances to keep on most members of staff.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Harman beat three other bidders to land Newsweek, investment firm OpenGate Capital, hedge fund Avenue Capital Group and Fred Drasner, a former co-publisher of the New York Daily News.

“In seeking a buyer for Newsweek, we wanted someone who feels as strongly as we do about the importance of quality journalism. We found that person in Sidney Harman,” said Donald E Graham, chairman and chief executive of The Washington Post Company.

“He has pledged not only to continue to produce a lively, compelling and first-rate news magazine, but also an equally dynamic Newsweek.com – and he intends to keep a majority of Newsweek’s very talented staff.”

“Newsweek is a national treasure. I am enormously pleased to be succeeding The Washington Post Company and the Graham family and look forward to this great journalistic, business and technological challenge,’Harman said.

Newsweek’s Europe edition had a sale off 192,239 in the second half of last year.

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