Daily Newspaper Deals at New Post-Recession Highs
Posted: 1/17/2013  |  By: Press Release | Dirks, Van Essen & Murray
The number of daily newspapers sold and the number of individual transactions involving daily newspapers in 2012 were the highest since the onset of the national recession five years ago.

In total, 84 daily newspapers were sold last year in 25 transactions worth $642.83 million, according to statistics compiled by Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, the nation’s leading newspaper merger and acquisition firm. The increased activity shows renewed optimism about the industry, as new buyers who entered the market in 2011 continued to build in 2012. Looking forward in 2013, the firm expects the deal flow to remain strong.

“Although the environment for financing transactions is still challenging, many of the buyers entering the marketplace are bringing financial strength that enhances their ability to close,” said Phil Murray, executive vice president of Dirks, Van Essen & Murray.


“Newspaper publishers are starting to drive revenue from non-traditional sources,” Murray said. “This is giving buyers renewed confidence about the future of the industry.”

The two largest transactions of 2012 involved the breakups of two venerable newspaper companies. A unit of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought most of the newspapers owned by Richmond, Va.-based Media General. Media General’s Tampa (FL) Tribune and related publications were sold separately to a private equity group.

In addition, Freedom Communications sold all of its newspapers in a series of transactions. An investor group led by Aaron Kushner bought the newspapers located in the west, including the Orange County Register, and retained the Freedom Communications name.

Previously, Freedom had sold its newspapers in Florida and North Carolina to Stephens’ Halifax Media Group, its Texas newspapers to a new company led by Jeremy Halbreich and its Midwest newspapers to Versa. Versa formed Civitas Media after taking over Heartland Publications later in the year.

The field of buyers in 2012 also consisted of a number of longtime privately held newspaper companies that took advantage of opportunities. Among these were Ogden Newspapers, Jeff Brown’s Home News Enterprises, Sample News Group and Boone Newspapers. Additionally, local interests bought newspapers in Santa Rosa, California; Lawton, Oklahoma; Maine; and Philadelphia.