Dow Jones Sells 4 Ottaway Newspapers

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(AP) Dow Jones & Co. has agreed to sell four Ottaway Newspaper Inc. dailies to Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. (CNHI) of Birmingham, Ala., for $182 million.

The newspapers are: The Globe in Joplin, Mo.; The Herald in Sharon, Pa.; The Daily Independent in Ashland, Ky.; and The Free Press in Mankato, Minn. The sale, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close by March 29, Dow Jones announced Thursday.

For the full year 2001, the four newspapers had combined revenues of $47 million. They had combined circulation of 96,200 in January.

“After a review of all Ottaway newspaper locations, we have decided to focus our future growth outside of these markets and to aggressively pursue newspaper acquisitions in other regions of the country,” said James H. Ottaway Jr., board chairman.

Ottaway will continue to publish 15 daily and more than 30 weekly newspapers in 10 states. These businesses had combined 2001 revenue of $301 million and daily circulation of about 444,000.

Ottaway is subsidiary of Dow Jones, which publishes The Wall Street Journal.

Dow Jones estimated the sales would result in an after-tax gain of about $118 million, or $1.39 per share. Proceeds will be used to repay debt, repurchase shares, and acquire additional community newspapers, the company said.

CNHI, formed in 1997, currently owns 105 daily newspapers and 77 non-daily newspapers in 21 states with daily circulation of more than 1.1 million.

“We anticipate no changes to the daily operations of the (four) newspapers and look forward to continuing the tradition of serving their communities and customers,” said Mike E. Reed, president and CEO.

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