National Enquirer to be sold to owner of magazine distributor

(Reuters) - American Media Inc (AMI) said on Thursday it was selling its National Enquirer tabloid to James Cohen, whose family owns a magazine distributor and used to own the Hudson chain of airport newsstands.

U.S. tabloid newspaper the National Enquirer display rack is seen in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

The National Enquirer had admitted to paying hush money to help U.S. President Donald Trump get elected and been accused of attempting to blackmail Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The weekly tabloid, along with two of its sister publications, will be purchased by Cohen. The Washington Post reported the sale was for $100 million. The companies did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment on the price.

Cohen’s family owns a U.S. magazine and book distributor, Hudson News Distributors. In 2008, the family sold the airport retail and newsstand business to Dufry AG.

The deal comes a week after AMI said it was looking at “strategic options” for the National Enquirer as well as for the Globe and National Examiner brands.

The sale is expected to reduce AMI’s debt to $355 million.

Last week, the New York Times reported that owners of the National Enquirer were in talks to sell the tabloid to California-based billionaire Ronald Burkle.

Paul Pope, one of the heirs of the National Enquirer founder, Generoso Pope Jr., had also been in the list of bidders, according to media reports.

On Tuesday, Pope dropped his bid to buy the supermarket tabloid from American Media, the New York Post reported.

Over its 92-year history, the National Enquirer has enticed readers in supermarket checkout lines with sensational headlines and photos about celebrities. The tabloid’s website says it has an audience of 5 million.

Earlier in February, Bezos, the chief executive of Inc, accused the publication of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing intimate photos. AMI has defended its reporting on Bezos’ affair with Lauren Sanchez, a former television anchor.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal; Editing by James Emmanuel and Peter Cooney