New Media Investment Group to Acquire Assets of Harris Enterprises
Hutchinson, KS - November 14, 2016 - New Media Investment Group Inc. (NYSE:NEWM) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the newspapers and most other assets of Harris Enterprises Inc. The six newspapers will be operated by a division of New Media’s GateHouse Media.
The primary publications are the 27,000-circulation Hutchinson (KS) News, the 25,500-circulation Salina (KS) Journal, the 15,500-circulation Burlington (IA) Hawk Eye, the 8,000-circulation Hays (KS) Daily News, the 7,000-circulation Garden City (KS) Telegram and the 4,000-circulation Ottawa (KS) Herald.
Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represented Harris Enterprises in the sale. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close November 30.
“We are excited to welcome the family of publications owned by Harris Enterprises to GateHouse Media,” Jason Taylor, Western division president, said. “We see the culture of these markets as a natural fit with our shared vision for quality local journalism and service to community.”
GateHouse operates newspapers and associated websites in a number of Kansas communities, including Dodge City, McPherson, Newton and Pittsburg, and in Ames and other cities in Iowa. It has newspapers in 36 states and hundreds of markets. It also operates Propel Marketing, a digital marketing services platform, which provides a broad range of solutions for small and mid-size business customers.
“We anticipate great synergies with our existing operations in Kansas and Iowa,” Taylor said.
Harris family involvement in the newspaper business started when Ralph Harris purchased the Ottawa Herald in 1907. Ownership now includes the third and fourth generations of the family.
“The families agreed earlier this year that the changes in the media landscape necessitated getting much bigger or turning over these newspapers to a larger owner,” Bruce Buchanan, president of Harris, said. “GateHouse has a broad footprint and can compete on a national level while retaining a commitment to doing what newspapers do best, which is serving local communities.”
All existing employees except Buchanan and Harris chief financial officer Sarah Liebl will be offered the opportunity to continue with GateHouse. Buchanan and Liebl will remain with Harris as the company winds down.
“Many companies in this industry trim the staffs substantially with a sale, so we are pleased that GateHouse is keeping almost everyone,” Buchanan said. “Our stockholders only reluctantly decided to sell, but this will help our communities understand the commitment the buyer has to continuing the family legacy.”
Ralph Harris and his two sons, John P. and Sidney, extended their newspaper ownership with the purchase of the Chanute Tribune in 1927. In 1933, John and Sid added the Hutchinson (Kan.) News. The Burlington (Iowa) Hawk Eye was purchased in 1941 and the Salina Journal in 1949. The Garden City Telegram joined the group in 1953, the Olathe (Kan.) Daily News in 1959, the Hays (Kan.) Daily News in 1970, and the Parsons (Kan.) Sun in 1982. Olathe was sold in 1998, and Chanute and Parsons were sold in 2008. Several other newspapers and many radio stations have been bought and sold over the years.
Descendants of John P. and Sidney Harris remain as the primary stockholders, along with four other minority owners. An employee stock ownership plan was bought out by Harris earlier this month.
For more information, contact Dirks, Van Essen & Murray at 505-820-2700.