Burkle, 66, is the owner of The Yucaipa Companies, a private equity firm that specializes in buying distressed companies, and an investor in numerous grocery, technology, media, and sports companies.
Burkle, who has ties to former President Bill Clinton, is in talks to buy The National Enquirer, a tabloid that is unequivocally pro-Trump. David Pecker, the CEO of the Enquirer’s parent company American Media, was involved in helping Trump bury a story by a former Playboy playmate who claimed she had an affair with him ahead of the 2016 election.
Chatham Asset Management, which owns American Media, pushed Pecker to sell that tabloid over ongoing legal scrutiny related to his dealings with Trump, as well as the tabloids ongoing feud with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ron Burkle is in Talks to Buy The National Enquirer
Burkle is in talks to buy The National Enquirer, The New York Times reported.
According to the report, American Media, which owns the tabloid, is “deep in their negotiations” with Burkle, though it noted that deal may still fall apart.
Chatham Asset Management, the principal owner of American Media, has pressured American Media chief executive David Pecker to sell the tabloid to avoid continued legal scrutiny, according to The Times.
Financial losses compounded the company’s urge to sell the tabloid, The Times added.
2. Burkle is a Billionaire Investor and Part-Owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Burkle’s net worth is estimated at $1.5 billion, according to Forbes.
Burkle is the son of a grocer who began working in stores at 13 years old.
In 1986, he founded Yucaipa and earned his fortune buying and selling supermarket chains like Fred Meyer, Ralphs, and Jurgensen’s.
In 1999, he became part-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins as he helped buy them out of bankruptcy. The team has since won three Stanley Cup championships.
Burkle has since invested in tech firms like Airbnb, Uber, and Foursquare.
3. Burkle Has Ties to Bill Clinton and Donald Trump
Burkle is a major Democratic Party donor, The Times reported.
When Bill Clinton left office in 2001, he signed on as an adviser to Yucaipa, “an arrangement with the potential to yield tens of millions of dollars for the former president,” The Times reported.
President Trump also calls Burkle a “friend.”
During the Penguins’ Stanley Cup celebration at the White House in 2017, Trump praised Burkle as a “great, great negotiator.”
“I really mean that,” Trump added. “If you want to get involved in negotiating Nafta, I like it.”
Burkle also has ties to liberal billionaire George Soros and is a trustee at a nonprofit founded by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn.
4. Burkle Previously Tried to Buy The Wall Street Journal
Burkle previously sought to buy The Wall Street Journal in 2007, The Times reported. The paper was later sold to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
A year earlier, Burkle’s firm attempted to buy a dozen Knight Ridder newspapers but his bid was unsuccessful.
Burkle is said to be friends with Pecker and the two backed Radar magazine, a lifestyle tabloid that shuttered in 2008.
5. National Enquirer Being Sold Off Due to Legal Scrutiny
The National Enquirer is owned by American Media which itself is primarily owned by Chatham Asset Management.
Chatham has pressed Pecker to sell the National Enquirer due to ongoing legal scrutiny.
American Media signed a non-prosecution deal with federal prosecutors last year admitting it made a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to “influence the election” on behalf of Trump.
The deal vowed that the company “shall commit no crimes whatsoever” for three years.
That aspect was made all the more problematic when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos accused the company of trying to extort him over photos that showed him in the nude.