06-30-02 | Printable Version

2nd Quarter 2002

Landmark Communications, Inc. made its first daily newspaper acquisition in nearly a quarter century, one of three transactions involving dailies in a relatively quiet second quarter.

Norfolk, Virginia-based Landmark, through its Landmark Community Newspapers, Inc., division, bought the 4,100-circulation Las Vegas (NM) Optic, located 64 miles east of the state capital in Santa Fe. The Optic will complement the Los Alamos (NM) Monitor, whose acquisition in 1978 represented the company’s last daily transaction.

Landmark hopes to capitalize on the ability of the two dailies to draw additional advertising dollars from the growing Northern New Mexico retail trade center in Santa Fe. Los Alamos is located about 30 miles northwest of the capital city.

The Optic becomes the eighth daily newspaper owned by Landmark. In addition to the two New Mexico dailies, Shelbyville, Kentucky-based Landmark Community Newspapers publishes dailies in Elizabethtown, Kentucky; Carroll County, Maryland; and Citrus County, Florida. The division also publishes more than 100 weekly newspapers, shoppers, and other publications around the country.

The parent Landmark Communica-tions publishes three large daily newspapers in Norfolk and Roanoke, Virginia, and in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Landmark acquired the Optic from the Beck family, which had owned the newspaper for more than 20 years. The Becks will continue to own the Roswell (NM) Daily Record in the southeastern part of the state.

Lee Adds More

Two other deals involving daily newspapers were announced in the second quarter -- Lee Enterprises’ agreement to buy the remaining 50 percent of the Sioux City (IA) Journal and Eagle-Tribune Publishing Co.’s acquisition of three dailies north of Boston.

In total, the second quarter activity represented more than $130 million in deal volume, bringing the number of daily ownership changes so far in 2002 to 30.

Lee, which had acquired a 50 percent interest in the 42,800-circulation Sioux City daily in the first quarter of 2002 through its purchase of Howard Publications, reached an agreement with Hagadone Corp. to buy the rest for $59.3 million in cash and a group of weekly newspapers near Hagadone’s daily in Kalispell, Montana. The purchase price represents 11.5 times anticipated annual incremental EBITDA for 2002.

Weekly Front

A handful of deals also were announced involving weekly newspapers. Media Services Group of Greeneville, Tennessee, operated by Gregg Jones, acquired the weekly Mountain Times in Boone, North Carolina.

Tribune Co. sold four weekly newspapers in eastern Virginia to the family of a former Landmark executive, Bill Diederich. The weeklies, acquired in 2001 as part of a larger deal with Chesapeake Publishing, are located in the Northern Neck area east of Fredericksburg.