Washington Post Co. Acquires Majority Stake in Hospice Firm

As its education unit loses money, the media company is making a foray into health care

The Washington Post Company announced Monday that it has acquired a majority stake in Celtic Healthcare, an East Coast hospice services firm.

The deal, the price of which was not disclosed, comes as the Post Co.'s once-lucrative Kaplan educational unit — long a buoy for the struggling newspaper arm — has lost money. 

Donald E. Graham, the company's CEO, said the acquisition was "part of the Post Co.'s ongoing strategy of investing in companies with demonstrated earnings potential and strong management teams attracted to our long-term investment horizon."

The firm was founded in 1996 by physical therapist Arnie Burchianti, who will stay on as CEO, and expanded throughout the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions.

Celtic receives much of its funding from Medicare, a provider of hospice benefits for extended periods of time. It has appealed to health-care industry lobbyists to urge Congress to avoid Medicare cuts.

Also read: Washington Post Co. Turns a Profit in Q2, But Print Ads Down 15%

The Post Co. turned a profit in its second quarter report in August. But despite a net income of $51.8 million — up from $45.6 million a year earlier — the company's $1 billion revenue dropped by five percent.

Print advertising revenue fell further — down 15 percent since 2011 — as print circulation fell 9.3 percent daily and 6.1 percent for the Sunday edition in 2012.

This will be the company's first move into health care, adding Celtic to its education businesses, a list of broadcasters and its flagship newspaper.

"We are a diverse group of businesses sharing common goals and values but each with its own identity and workplace culture, and with management responsible for its operations," Graham said in a statement.