THE MEDIA BUSINESS: Sale Is Expected Soon For National Enquirer

THE MEDIA BUSINESS - Sale Is Expected Soon For National Enquirer

THE MEDIA BUSINESS: Sale Is Expected Soon For National Enquirer

Published: December 14, 1988

The trustees for the estate of Generoso P. Pope Jr., who died on Oct. 2, said yesterday that The National Enquirer and Weekly World News would be sold as quickly as possible.

The National Enquirer, which for decades has provided supermarket shoppers with sometimes sensational reading, has a readership of 4.5 million. At one time circulation was as high as five million. Weekly World News is also a tabloid sold in supermarkets.

The trustees said they anticipated an open bidding process for the two papers, which were owned by Mr. Pope. And industry speculation is that at least two bidders are likely. One is Paul Pope, one of Generoso Pope’s six children. Another is Robert Maxwell, the British financier and publisher. Many Interested Parties

One of the trustees, Jerome Traum, a partner of Janklow & Traum, the financial and literary law firm, said a number of parties had already expressed interest.

Paul Pope, 21 years old, who has been working at the paper for the last several years, was the heir apparent. But his father’s will stipulated that the papers were to be sold upon his death.

Paul Pope is trying to put together financing to bid for the publication, one person close to Mr. Pope said. It is not known what position the five other siblings will take.

The trustees of the estate are Mr. Traum; Peter G. Peterson, a partner in the Blackstone Group, and Citibank, and they are considering bringing in an investment banker with expertise in communications. That description narrows it down to Henry Ansbacher & Company and Veronis Suhler & Company.

It is difficult to put a price on The National Enquirer because its financial performance is not public, but several industry executives believe it may be worth from $250 million to $400 million. Less Sensationalism

In recent years, The National Enquirer has become a somewhat tamer publication, with less emphasis on sex and sensationalism, as has one of its principal rivals, Rupert Murdoch’s Star.

The shift reflects a change in its readers, more of whom are now middle-aged women.

Leo Scullin, a senior vice president and director of print relations for Young & Rubicam, said the paper had won a great deal of advertiser acceptance lately because of a systematic attempt to attract more advertisers with seasonal themes.

How serious Mr. Maxwell might be is not clear. ”It is a property that in the course of things, Maxwell Communication will be likely to be looking at,” said a person close to Mr. Maxwell, referring to the company headed by the financier.

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