Tabloid at center of Trump, Bezos controversies to be sold

The National Enquirer supermarket tabloid is being sold by parent firm American Media to a private investor (AFP Photo/JUSTIN SULLIVAN)

New York (AFP) - The National Enquirer, a tabloid enmeshed in scandals over the payment of hush money on Donald Trump's behalf and the leak of private messages from Amazon's Jeff Bezos, is being sold to a private investor, the publisher said Thursday.

American Media LLC said it had reached an agreement in principle with James Cohen, the owner and chief executive of Hudson Media, for the sale of the Enquirer's US and UK editions along with the sister tabloids Globe and National Examiner.

Terms of the deal were not announced, but The Washington Post reported that the sale price would be some $100 million.

AMI said the agreement includes a multi-year service contract that will generate "substantial fees" for publishing, financial and distribution services.

"The sale of these brands shows their vitality in today's newsstand marketplace where they continue to generate nearly $30 million in profit annually," said American Media President and CEO David Pecker.

Pecker, a longtime friend of Trump, was reportedly offered immunity as part of an investigation into payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep them from revealing alleged affairs.

According to federal prosecutors, AMI paid $150,000 to McDougal to keep her from going public with her claim to have had an affair with Trump.

Prosecutors said AMI made the payment at the request of Trump's former attorney.

More recently, Bezos accused the tabloid of trying to blackmail him by threatening to publish intimate exchanges with his mistress as he was in the process of divorcing his wife.

An investigator hired by Bezos said he concluded that the pictures and texts from the Amazon CEO's phone were hacked by Saudi Arabian authorities.

Cohen, whose company owns a large chain of airport newsstands, said he plans to accelerate the Enquirer's current collaborations in video and documentary programs as well as the theme park business, which has sites in Missouri and Tennessee.

"Year after year, the Enquirer has continued to be one of the best-selling and most profitable newsstand titles," said Cohen.

"But this transaction is about more than a weekly publication, it's about a brand with extraordinary potential across multiple platforms."

AMI, which also publishes the magazines Us Weekly, Star, Life & Style, Closer and Men's Journal, said the deal would be finalized as soon as possible after regulatory approvals and would allow the company to reduce its debt.