New Media Investment Group Inc. (NYSE:NEWM) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the newspapers and most other assets of Harris Enterprises Inc. The six newspapers will be operated by a division of New Media’s GateHouse Media.
The primary publications are the 27,000-circulation Hutchinson (KS) News, the 25,500-circulation Salina (KS) Journal, the 15,500-circulation Burlington (IA) Hawk Eye, the 8,000-circulation Hays (KS) Daily News, the 7,000-circulation Garden City (KS) Telegram and the 4,000-circulation Ottawa (KS) Herald.
Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represented Harris Enterprises in the sale. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close November 30.
“We are excited to welcome the family of publications owned by Harris Enterprises to GateHouse Media,” Jason Taylor, Western division president, said. “We see the culture of these markets as a natural fit with our shared vision for quality local journalism and service to community.”
GateHouse operates newspapers and associated websites in a number of Kansas communities, including Dodge City, McPherson, Newton and Pittsburg, and in Ames and other cities in Iowa. It has newspapers in 36 states and hundreds of markets. It also operates Propel Marketing, a digital marketing services platform, which provides a broad range of solutions for small and mid-size business customers.
“We anticipate great synergies with our existing operations in Kansas and Iowa,” Taylor said.
Harris family involvement in the newspaper business started when Ralph Harris purchased the Ottawa Herald in 1907. Ownership now includes the third and fourth generations of the family.
“The families agreed earlier this year that the changes in the media landscape necessitated getting much bigger or turning over these newspapers to a larger owner,” Bruce Buchanan, president of Harris, said. “GateHouse has a broad footprint and can compete on a national level while retaining a commitment to doing what newspapers do best, which is serving local communities.”
All existing employees except Buchanan and Harris chief financial officer Sarah Liebl will be offered the opportunity to continue with GateHouse. Buchanan and Liebl will remain with Harris as the company winds down.