With Tribune and New Media leading the pack, public companies have been the buyers in transactions totaling a overwhelming 91 percent of daily newspaper deal dollar volume so far in 2015. With deals including Tribune’s $85 million purchase of the San Diego Union Tribune and New Media’s $102.5 million purchase of Stephens Media earlier this year, the public company transactions have been large in scale. While these transactions represent the vast majority of dollar volume, they represent 33.3 percent of the total number of deals completed so far this year.
This dominance in deal volume has historically been the case, as the public companies tend to control larger newspapers. Today, the eight pure-play public newspaper companies own 27.5 percent of all dailies in the United States, yet these dailies represent 45.7 percent of daily circulation.
The chart below shows the percentage of transactions involving dailies that were made by public companies annually since 2006. In 2014, public company acquisitions represented 53.2 percent of total daily newspaper deal dollar volume and 30.4 percent of all transactions involving daily newspapers. In 2009 through 2012, public companies were sidelined as they dealt with the credit crisis of 2008, balance sheet issues and structural changes to the industry.
Today’s pure-play public newspaper companies include A. H. Belo Corporation, The McClatchy Company, Lee Enterprises, The New York Times Company, Journal Media Group, Gannett, Tribune Publishing and New Media Investment Group.