Bidders Emerge for ‘Honolulu Star-Bulletin’

By: E&P Staff

Honolulu newspapers are reporting Tuesday that David Black’s Oahu Publications received at least one bid for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin by the preliminary deadline.

The parties publicly announcing their joint bid were Hawaiian state Sen. Sam Slom and Malia Zimmerman, identified as a local Internet publisher.

Black put the Star-Bulletin up for sale as a requirement of the U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, which must clear Oahu Publication’s purchase of the much-bigger Honolulu Advertiser from Gannett Co. Black has said the Star-Bulletin would be folded into the Advertiser if it cannot be sold.

Almost nobody expects the Star-Bulletin, which Black said is averaging annual losses of $13 million, to be sold.

Both newspapers reported Austin, Texas-based investor Brian Ferguson submitted a bid for the daily and for its sibling weekly MidWeek, which was not offered for sale. Ferguson’s interest could not be confirmed.

Under the bid process qualified bidders will get more information about the newspaper, and will have until April 19 to submit an amended bid.

Separately, the six unions of the Hawaii Newspaper and Printing Trades Council are demanding the Advertiser restore all concessions union employees made to help keep the paper going.

Council spokesperson Wayne Cahill, administrative officer of the Hawaii Newspaper Guild, told The Guild Reporter that the concessions, which include a 10% wage cut, were supposed to save money so the Advertiser could keep operating.

“As far as the unions are concerned, all of our contracts stay in force until Dec. 31, 2010,” he told the Guild Reporter, “and we will do everything in our power to make sure Gannett takes care of the loyal, hard-working employees who continue to make the Advertiser successful.”

In other developments, a union is suing Gannett in state court, claiming it did not provide employees with the required 60-day notice of workplace closure.

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