National Enquirer Owner Turned to Business Partner to Make Sale

(Bloomberg) -- Chatham Asset Management, the hedge fund that controls the National Enquirer, turned to a business partner to unload the scandal-plagued supermarket tabloid.

The investment firm put the newspaper up for sale after some of its investors had expressed concerns about the firm’s ownership of the tabloid. But Chatham didn’t have to go far to find someone willing to take it off its hands.

James Cohen’s Hudson Media, the buyer, has ties to both Chatham and the Enquirer. His company co-owns a magazine-marketing business with the hedge fund. And its clients include Cosmopolitan, Vogue, and -- yes -- the National Enquirer.

Last November, one of Chatham’s other holdings, American News Co., bought the U.S. magazine businesses of Jim Pattison Group, one of Canada’s largest privately held companies. The sale included Comag Marketing Group, which is co-owned by Hudson and helps magazine owners with distribution, billings and collections.

On Thursday, Cohen agreed to spend $100 million for the Enquirer, according to the Washington Post.

The deal suggests there wasn’t a long line of potential buyers for the tabloid, which got into hot water after Inc. billionaire Jeff Bezos accused the Enquirer and publisher American Media of extortion.

‘Catch and Kill’

In an earlier flap, the Enquirer was accused of spiking embarrassing stories about Donald Trump -- a process known as “catch and kill.” American Media admitted last year that it worked with the Trump campaign to withhold articles about the then-candidate’s relationships with women.

Billionaire Ron Burkle had been rumored to be interested in buying the National Enquirer, potentially putting a high-profile Democratic Party donor in charge of a tabloid that’s been friendly to Trump. But a representative for the investor said he didn’t want to buy the troubled newspaper.

Even with new owners, the Enquirer will remain tied to American Media’s operations. Under a multiyear contract, the company will continue to provide publishing, financial and distribution services for the tabloid. American Media expects the arrangement to generate “substantial fees.”

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