California Newspapers Acquired by Area GroupBack to News

SANTA ROSA, CA – November 1, 2012 – The 65,000-circulation Santa Rosa (CA) Press Democrat and two affiliated publications in Sonoma County are being sold by Florida-based Halifax Media Group to a partnership that includes a group of local investors, the principals in the deal announced Thursday.

Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a newspaper merger and acquisition firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represented Halifax in the transaction.

The buyers include Darius Anderson, a Sonoma-based developer and top Sacramento lobbyist, and Doug Bosco, a former North Coast congressman, Santa Rosa attorney and Democratic party powerbroker.  The same group, called Sonoma Media Investments LLC, earlier this year bought the Sonoma Index-Tribune, the Sonoma-based newspaper that publishes twice a week.

The sale by Halifax Media Group includes the weekly Petaluma Argus-Courier and North Bay Business Journal in Santa Rosa and affiliated websites for The Press Democrat and the two weeklies.

The terms of the deal were not announced. The purchase is expected to close early this month.

Other key players in the purchase group include Steven Falk, former president and publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle and chief executive of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and Bill Hooper, president of Anderson’s development firm, Kenwood Investments, and a former executive with Clear Channel Outdoor, the billboard advertising company.

The sale will end Halifax’s brief ownership of The Press Democrat and the two weeklies, which it purchased in January along with 13 other newspapers and related websites — mostly in the Southeastern United States — from the New York Times Co. for $143 million. The Times Co. had owned The Press Democrat since 1985, when it purchased the newspaper from the Finley family of Santa Rosa.