09-30-10 | Printable Version

3rd Quarter 2010

Expanding the regional footprint
Companies extend market reach with strategic 3rd Q deals

Privately held newspaper companies continued to make acquisitions in the third quarter, in most cases adding strategic publishing pieces to existing clusters.

The majority of the acquirers are smaller, family-owned concerns that see opportunity in the current marketplace. Although the national economy remains anemic, these publishers are building for the future.

For example, the Shelton family added a shopper in Florence, Alabama to complement the daily it bought there last year.

Dirks, Van Essen & Murray expects the year to end with additional transactions announced, but that overall transaction dollar volume will be low by historical standards for the year.

Delphos Deal

Longtime Ohio publisher Murray Cohen acquired a neighboring daily newspaper and complementary weeklies from Brown Publishing Co. during an auction held in connection with Brown’s bankruptcy proceedings.

Cohen, owner of the Delphos (OH) Herald and other newspapers, bought the daily Van Wert Bulletin, which serves a market area directly west of Delphos. In addition, Cohen got weekly newspapers that included the Putnam County Sentinel, Putnam County Vidette and the Ada Herald, all of which are east of Delphos.

Cohen moved the printing of these newspapers into his own plant in the area. Cohen’s company also owns newspapers in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Michigan. (See related story: Delphos strengthens long-held Midwest Holdings)

This deal was one of three transactions resulting from the Brown bankruptcy auction. Dan’s Papers in Long Island were sold separately, and the remaining Brown publications were acquired by Brown’s senior lenders. (See related story: Brown becomes Ohio Community Media)

Tar Heel Heaven

Companies formed by Boone Newspapers of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, closed on the acquisitions of two daily newspapers in North Carolina.

A new Boone company bought the 4,200-circulation Tryon (NC) Daily Bulletin, once called the Tom Thumb of daily newspapers because of its unusual 8½ by 11 format. The deal also included a monthly equestrian magazine and related products.

The Tryon operation had been owned for more than two decades by the Byrd family, which had acquired it from the son of its quirky founder. Originally the Daily Bulletin had been printed on 5½ by 8½ paper, but was bumped up to the larger size in 1955.

A Boone-led company also closed on the Washington Daily News in eastern North Carolina. The Futrell family, which had owned the Daily News for more than 60 years, will retain a minority stake in the new company.

Boone Newspapers owns and manages 38 community newspapers in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Minnesota, Ohio and Michigan.

More Muscle in the Shoals

The Shelton family added a large shopper to its stable of publications in northwest Alabama, further solidifying its hold on the Tennessee River region of the state.

The Sheltons bought the Courier Journal, which is distributed weekly by mail to 69,000 households in the Florence and Muscle Shoals areas. The publication was acquired from the estate of Bob R. Love, who died in March 2009. Love had acquired a paid weekly in Florence in 1982, which he subsequently converted to a shopper.

The Shelton family’s Tennessee Valley Printing Co. acquired the Times Daily in Florence from the New York Times Co. in 2009, which complemented its longtime family newspaper in neighboring Decatur. (See related story )

Clint Shelton, president of TVP, said the company will operate the shopper independently of its other newspapers in the region, although it will take advantage of some synergies.

Oh Mighty Isis

Dan’s Papers, the leading newspaper in the playground of the rich and famous known as the Hamptons, was sold to the newspaper’s founder and a private equity firm that owns newspapers in New York City.

Isis Venture Partners of New York backed eponymous founder Dan Rattiner in buying Dan’s Papers from Brown Publishing as part of the Brown bankruptcy auction.

Isis also owns Manhattan Media, a community media company in New York whose titles include AVENUE magazine, New York Press, Our Town, West Side Spirit, New York Family, City Hall and City Arts. Dan’s Papers will be an operating subsidiary of Manhattan Media.

Rattiner published his first eight-page edition of Dan’s Papers in Montauk, New York, 50 years ago while he was home for the summer from college. It is now the largest newspaper in the Hamptons.

Rattiner will continue in his role as editor in chief and president of the company.

Up North

The family owners of the Lakeland Times in Minocqua, Wisconsin, bought the neighboring Rhinelander Daily News. Both are in the same northern Wisconsin county. Gregg and Kim Walker say they will keep the publications separate.

The Walkers acquired the Daily News from Blueline Media Holdings, which had owned the small daily since 2006. Blueline got the newspaper and another daily in Shawano, Wisconsin from Lee Enterprises.

Blueline will continue to operate its newspapers and printing businesses in Shawano and Green Bay.

Other News

The John M. Jones family added the Daily Times in Maryville, Tennessee to its holdings in eastern Tennessee.

Located south of Knoxville, the Maryville newspaper will join a stable of newspapers in the western foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The Jones family, which got its start in newspapering in Greeneville, Tennessee, also has publishing operations in western North Carolina.

The Maryville Daily Times had been owned by Horvitz Newspapers, which acquired it and other newspapers from Persis Corp. in 1994. Horvitz will continue to publish the Peninsula Daily News in Port Angeles, Washington.

The Thomson family regained majority ownership of Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, in a deal with Canadian telecom Giant BCE Inc.

The ownership change occurred as part of a transaction in which BCE acquired 100% ownership of CTV television from the Thomson family’s holding company and other owners.

Press Publications, publisher of suburban newspapers northeast of Minneapolis-St. Paul, added the Citizen, a 9,400-circulation bi-weekly newspaper that complements the company’s existing holdings.

Black Press acquired a group of newspapers from Glacier Media in British Columbia, where Black Press already has a strong presence.