By: Mark Fitzgerald
In a flurry of activity announced Thursday, La Opini?n, the Lozano family-owned Los Angeles paper that is nation’s largest circulation Spanish-language daily, ended its partnership with Tribune Co. — and promptly joined up with the venture capital group CPK Media Holdings to form a national Latino newspaper chain.
The new company, called Impremedia LLC, begins with two of the most venerable Spanish-language U.S. newspapers: the 124,692-circulation La Opini?n founded in 1926 and the 50,040-circulation El Diario/La Prensa in New York City founded in 1913. Jose Ignacio Lozano, who had been La Opini?n’s publisher and CEO, was named vice chairman of Impremedia with a mandate to spot new acquisitions for the chain.
“His primary focus will be on New York and L.A., to continue to operate and grow the existing properties, and in parallel to that to grow other opportunities,” said Enrique Kaufer, La Opini?n’s vice president of marketing. The chain is targeting cities with substantial Hispanic populations and will consider weeklies and other niche publications, he said.
“Our vision is to create a national group of Latino newspapers that covers issues impacting our community nationally, regionally and locally on a hard hitting and timely basis,” Jose Ignacio Lozano said in a statement. “We understand very clearly that while we speak one language, we are not one culture, and our newspapers will reflect and respond to the nuances of our distinct communities throughout the country.”
The bicoastal dailies will be managed independently. Lozano’s sister Monica Lozano was named publisher and CEO of La Opini?n, and senior vice president of Impremedia. Rossana Rosado will continue as publisher and CEO of El Diario.
Steve Rader, who was previously involved in the acquisition of Univision, the Spanish-language television network, was named chairman of the new newspaper chain. He is a managing general partner of Clarity Partners, the L.A.-based private equity firm that is one of several venture capital groups in CPK Media, which last July bought El Diario. The other groups are BMO Halyard Partners, the New York-based private equity investment arm of BMO Financial Group; ACON Investments, a Washington, D.C., firm affiliated with the big private equity group Texas Pacific Group; and Knight Paton Media, a newspaper investment consulting firm.
CPK Media financed La Opini?n’s buyout of the Tribune Co.’s 50% stake in the newspaper, a partnership that began with the old Times Mirror Co. in 1990 and was part of Tribune’s acquisition of Times Mirror in June 2000. No financial terms of the divestiture were announced. “We support the Lozano family’s decision to operate as an independent newspaper, and we have worked together to help them achieve their goal,” Tribune Publishing President Jack Fuller said in a statement.
Lozano family managers had announced last fall they wanted to dissolve the partnership, which became increasingly awkward for both sides as it became obvious that Tribune would sooner or later extend into the L.A. market its fast-growing five-day, Spanish-language tabloid Hoy, which now circulates in the New York City metropolitan area and in Chicago. “We expect and believe they are planning to launch Hoy sometime early this year,” La Opini?n’s Kaufer said. Tribune spokesperson Christine Hennessey said the L.A. launch of Hoy is a “rumor,” and that Tribune has made no announcement of its intentions.