Son, 21, Wants `Enquirer` Paul Pope Hopes To Buy Late Father`s Empire
By MICHAEL SAUNDERS, Staff Writer
December 18, 1988
The loyalty of many National Enquirer employees to late owner Generoso Pope may have shifted to his 21-year-old son, who said on Saturday that he will do all he can to buy the widely read supermarket tabloid.
Paul Pope said he has enough financial backing to buy his father`s company, GP Group, which publishes the Enquirer and its sister publication, Weekly World News.
“I`m ready to do whatever it takes to keep it in the family,“ he said.
Paul Pope said the GP Group could be sold for $150 million to $300 million, “depending on how bad someone wants it.“
“I feel that I have a better chance than nearly everyone out there,“ he said.
His comments came hours after the paper`s employees met with representatives of The Blackstone Group, one of the three trustees charged with selling GP Group.
Generoso Pope, who died of a heart attack on Oct. 2, had a clause in his will that ordered the trustees to sell the lucrative company.
Nearly 125 employees, most still loyal to the Popes, filled a meeting room at the Airport Hilton in West Palm Beach, seeking answers to their future.
What they got was the first half of a question-and-answer session, with the answers to come from the trustees sometime in the future, said Blackstone Group representative Austin Beutner.
Some of the questions revealed resentment some employees felt about not being told that the papers were for sale. Most heard the news the same way the rest of the world did, in a Tuesday morning story in The Wall Street Journal.
When the paper is eventually sold, a woman asked Beutner, “Are you prepared to come to the employees immediately?“
Later on Saturday, Paul Pope said he met with employees on Thursday to officially tell them his plans.
“I answered as many questions as I could,“ Pope said. “That got the ball rolling.“
At Saturday`s session, which Paul Pope did not attend, one man complained of a “dearth of credibility“ now that Generoso Pope was not running the show.
Employees also asked about vacation benefits, severance pay, profit sharing and whether they would have veto power over any potential buyer.
Another man asked how Generoso Pope could have let control of the papers slip out of the family`s reach.
“How on earth could this have been bungled so badly?“ he asked from the rear of the room.
“You`ve got a gold mine here, and now you`ve got a situation where you may not even get the paper out next week,“ he said to a round of applause.
Any mention of Paul Pope`s efforts to buy the paper generated the most applause, prompting Beutner to say near the end of the meeting, “I sense a strong feeling here that Paul Pope should run the company.“
Paul Pope said on Saturday that he would run the company “in the same fashion as my father did.“