Lee Completes Purchase Of Howard Newspapers

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(AP) Lee Enterprises Inc. completed the $694 million purchase of 16 daily newspapers from Howard Publications, including one that is jointly owned.

The Howard newspapers have a daily circulation of 479,000. The acquisitions raise Lee’s daily circulation by more than 75%, to more than 1.1 million daily in 45 newspapers across 18 states.

“The strong, common thread among all these incoming newspapers is that … they’re all intensely local,” said Mary Junck, Lee chairman and chief executive, Monday. “They all serve solid markets that aren’t too big. And they all bring well-earned reputations for innovation and growth.”

Lee paid $435 million in cash for the Howard newspapers and borrowed the rest.

Lee also said Monday it had completed acquisition of a 50% stake in another daily newspaper through Central Wisconsin Newspapers, a subsidiary of Madison Newspapers Inc., which is 50% owned by Lee.

Central Wisconsin Newspapers’ acquisition of the Daily Citizen, a 10,250-circulation daily in Beaver Dam, Wis., includes two weekly newspapers and five specialty publications.

Lee also operates nearly 200 weekly newspapers, shoppers, and specialty publications, along with online services.

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