Tuesday, June 12, 2012

UPDATE: Gazette sold to Massachusetts company

Posted By on Tue, Jun 12, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Today, the Los Angeles Times reports the likely possibility that 2100 Trust plans to sell-off papers that aren't the Orange County Register. This could mean the Denver Post's parent company, MediaNews Group, is still in play for the Gazette.

The new owner hopes to spin off the smaller papers in separate deals by the end of the summer to help finance the purchase of the Register, according to an editor at the paper who was not authorized to speak publicly. These are the Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo.; the Appeal-Democrat in Marysville, Calif.; the Desert Dispatch in Barstow; the Porterville (Calif.) Record; the Daily Press in Victorville; and the Sun in Yuma, Ariz.

——— ORIGINAL POST: 11:50 A.M., Monday, June 11 ———

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At an 11 a.m. company meeting, employees of the Gazette were notified that the newspaper's parent company, Freedom Communications, had been wholly acquired by 2100 Trust LLC, a private, Boston-based investment company.

“The new owners have a long-standing interest in community journalism and understand the critical role that newspapers, despite all the changes of recent years, continue to play in providing the information that people need and can’t find anywhere else,” says Mark McEachen, Freedom’s executive vice president, in a statement.

The sale doesn't exactly come as a surprise, as rumors were flying all last week that something was imminent. As well, pieces of the Irvine, Calif.-based company were being doggedly moved the past few months.

"We knew this day was coming," writes reporter Daniel Chacón on his Facebook page. "We just didn't know who would be writing the check."

The Orange County Register, Freedom's flagship paper, says 2100 Trust is the company that last year tried to acquire the Boston Globe from the New York Times Co. (More on that here.) The denial of that sale is one of the reasons attributed to former CEO Janet Robinson's eventual ouster.

As for the new owner, here's the Register:

[Aaron] Kushner founded 2100 Trust in 2009 after he left his position as chief executive of Massachusetts-based Marian Heath Greeting Cards. Kushner, who once owned an online company to help people with moving, then organized a group of former media executives and investors to bid on the Globe. ...

Earlier this year, 2100 Trust appeared poised to buy a controlling interest in MaineToday Media, owner of the Portland Press Herald and several other papers. Among those working with 2100 Trust was Chris Harte, former president of the Press Herald. Harte previously was publisher of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He left after the paper's bankruptcy in 2009.

The firm's Maine bid, however, got derailed over differences with management and union objections to concessions Kushner wanted in work hours, benefits and job protections. The Maine company's board ultimately declined the 2100 Trust offer and accepted a cash infusion of $3 million to $4 million by Maine financier Donald Sussman and his Maine Values, LLC.

The sale will close in 30 days. In the mean time, we've asked various employees of the Gazette for further comment and will update this post if we hear back.

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