CHICAGO, IL – Jeremy L. Halbreich announced today his decision to step down from the positions of Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Sun-Times Media Holdings, LLC (“STM” or the “Company”). The decision is effective immediately in conjunction with the sale of the ownership interests of STM to Wrapports LLC that was announced earlier today.
“Over the past number of months, and certainly following the untimely death of Jim Tyree last March, one of my principal concerns and goals has been to ensure the Company passed into the right set of hands for the next phase of its evolution and growth,” Halbreich said.
“I know this to be the case in Wrapports LLC and its group of investors with their strong and deep commitments to the Chicago community and to the value of local journalism,” he added. “In addition, Tim Knight, CEO of the newly-formed Wrapports LLC, has been a good friend for many years and I believe everyone at STM will enjoy the opportunity of working with him.”
Halbreich joined the predecessor company, Sun-Times Media Group, Inc. (“STMG”), as a newly-elected Director in late February 2009 following a hostile proxy battle that installed a new Board of Directors at the then publicly-traded company. He was elected to serve as Chairman of the Board and shortly thereafter took on the additional role of Interim CEO.
Halbreich subsequently led STMG through a successful bankruptcy process during 2009 that resulted in the sale of the assets of STMG in late October 2009 to a Chicago-based investor group led by Jim Tyree, the former Chairman and CEO of Mesirow Financial. Tyree passed away in March 2011.
“Following Jim’s death, the remaining Sun-Times investors launched discussions regarding the Company’s strategic alternatives including the possible sale of the forty (40) newspapers and related web sites including the Chicago Sun-Times,” Halbreich said. “The outgoing group of investors deserves much credit for their initial investment and support of our efforts to save these newspapers and their accompanying web sites and successfully resurrect the business operations of the Company,” he added.
“When I first came to Chicago, I never imagined the assignment would turn into a full-time job. For me, it was all about trying to save the Chicago Sun-Times and its sister newspapers and it quickly evolved into leading the organization through the bankruptcy process, trying to preserve as many jobs as possible, raising fresh capital from a new set of investors, restructuring the business from a traditional newspaper publisher into a multimedia content company and, all the while, maintaining a strict focus and commitment to the quality of our products and the journalism produced by our award-winning staffs,” Halbreich said.
Under Halbreich’s leadership and direction, the Company transformed itself into a content-driven and sales-focused multimedia company through many bold and innovative steps. This included the installation of a centralized state-of-the-art content management system, installation of a centralized customer service relationship system, moving all distribution and printing functions to the Chicago Tribune, redesigned and enhanced web sites and digital offerings, significant restructuring across all support functions at Sun-Times and a dramatic change in the culture and entrepreneurial spirit across the Company. Through all of these dramatic business changes, the Company managed to preserve the quality of its editorial voice and its relationship with its local communities across all forty publications culminating in the Chicago Sun-Times winning the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting.
“I am extremely proud of our accomplishments. STM today is a strong, stable, healthy and profitable enterprise and I believe it has an exciting future ahead as it continues its transformation into the digital world,” Halbreich said. “Of course, none of this would have been possible without the wonderful support, creativity, innovation, commitment and dedication of my colleagues at STM. They are an extraordinary group of talented individuals,” he said.
“For anyone who knows me well, it will come as no surprise that I have already launched into a handful of new projects – a couple of consulting assignments and a couple of acquisition opportunities, ” he concluded.
Halbreich will continue in his other current industry assignments as Chairman of the Board at American Community Newspapers, Vice Chairman and Lead Director at Victoria Enterprises and as an advisory board member at The Harvard Crimson and at The University of Texas – College of Communications.
Prior to STM, Halbreich spent 24 years at The Dallas Morning News including the last ten years as President & General Manager. During this latter period, he oversaw the purchase of the assets of The Morning News’ principal competitor (Dallas Times Herald) and the newspaper subsequently grew to #1 in the U.S. in published advertising volumes, #7 in Daily circulation and earned six (6) Pulitzer Prizes for editorial excellence.
In late 1998, Halbreich founded American Consolidated Media based in Dallas, Texas. The Company owned and operated 105 local, community newspapers along with related print media and web sites in ten (10) states. Halbreich sold the Company in February 2007 to Macquarie Media Group (ASX: MMG), a publicly-traded media holding company based in Sydney, Australia and from February 2007 through August 2008 he led ACM through a successful transition under the new ownership and an expansion program that quadrupled the size of the Company.
AMERCOMM LLP is the media investment and consulting entity established by Halbreich in late 2008 after stepping down from his roles at American Consolidated Media and through which he began his affiliation with STM almost three years ago.