Private Equity Firm Buys Ohio Newspaper GroupBack to News

TIPP CITY, OH, May 20, 2011 – Ohio Community Media, LLC has sold a large group of daily and weekly newspapers in western and northern Ohio to an affiliate of Philadelphia-based Versa Capital Management Inc.

Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a newspaper merger and acquisition firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represented Ohio Community Media in the transaction. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Ohio group consists of 14 daily newspapers, more than 30 weeklies and a collection of shoppers and niche publications, clustered principally in the region between Dayton and Columbus. The group also serves communities in the Lake Erie region of northern Ohio.

The deal represents the last in a series of sales of publications formerly owned by Brown Publishing Co. Brown filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010, and ownership of the Ohio newspapers and other publications eventually passed to Ohio Community Media, controlled by Brown’s former lenders.

The daily newspapers in the latest transaction include the Sidney Daily News, Delaware Gazette, Troy Daily News, Wilmington News Journal, Washington Court House Record-Herald, Urbana Daily Citizen, Piqua Daily Call and several others. Also included are various weekly newspapers, shoppers, magazines and websites.

The acquiring company, OCM, LLC, is an affiliate of Versa Capital Management, which is making its first investment in the newspaper industry. Scott Champion, a former executive with Liberty Group Publishing, GateHouse Media and other newspaper companies, has been named to lead the new company.

"The future of news is local, and these media outlets have a long tradition of serving their communities with locally focused content," said Champion, president and CEO of the new company. "We see great opportunity in OCM and the community newspaper industry, and are pleased to conclude this transaction."

The Brown family bought its first newspaper in Ohio in 1920. The company grew through acquisitions in 1990s and 2000s, including a series of acquisitions that brought a number of business journals into the company.

Prior to selling the core Ohio newspaper group, OCM sold business and other publications in Des Moines, Iowa; Salt Lake City, Utah; Fort Worth, Texas; Naperville, Illinois; South Carolina; and Colorado.

If you have further questions contact Dirks, Van Essen & Murray at 505-820-2700.