PORTLAND, ME, November 13, 2008 - Frank Blethen, Chairman of Blethen Maine Newspapers (BMN), today announced that the company has signed a purchase agreement with Maine Media Investments, LLC, a Maine-based investor group. The parties anticipate closing the transaction before the end of this year. Terms of the agreement, including the sale price, will not be publicly disclosed.
Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a newspaper merger-and-acquisition firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is advising Blethen Maine Newspapers in the transaction.
Due primarily to the difficult and deteriorating economic environment, the negotiations toward reaching this purchase agreement took several months. Owing to the determined efforts and goodwill of both parties, most obstacles to completing the transaction have now been resolved. However, the sale remains subject to customary contingencies, including Maine Media obtaining a portion of its financing. Even though the credit markets are extremely tight right now, the buyer group is confident about financing given its significant equity commitment, strong business background and excellent reputation.
Maine Media includes some of Maine’s best known and highly respected figures. It is led by former Maine Senator and Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and his long-time friends and business associates Michael Liberty and Robert Baldacci of Portland, along with Richard L. Connor, a Bangor native with 40 years of experience owning and operating newspapers who will serve as a senior operating partner.
The BMN assets include three Maine daily newspapers: Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal (Augusta) and Morning Sentinel (Waterville). The MaineToday.com online site and a number of non-daily print publications published by BMN are also included in the transaction.
Blethen said that he and his family are pleased that ownership of the Blethen Maine Newspapers will be local. “Newspapers and their websites are vital to a community’s sense of place and to good government. Maine is a special place best served by people who understand its uniqueness. It has been my family’s privilege to reconnect with our Maine heritage and to serve our newspaper communities for the past ten years.”
“We are pleased with our progress on getting a signed agreement between both parties and now will continue full speed ahead to close this purchase,” said Richard L. Connor, who is leading the Maine Media Investments, LLC along with his partners Secretary William S. Cohen, Robert Baldacci, and Michael Liberty. “There has been a lot of heavy lifting done by the Blethen organization both in Maine and Seattle and by our team to make this happen. Hard work and patience have put us in a great position to move forward.
“My partners and I believe in the future of newspapers and new media as well as holding great love for and faith in the State of Maine,” said Connor. “We look forward to having the chance to build upon the great foundation of Blethen Maine Newspapers and on the wonderful legacy of the Guy Gannett family.”