Newspaper Guild Explores Bid for Blethen Papers in Maine

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The Portland Newspaper Guild says it is exploring a potential bid for the Blethen Maine Newspapers, which are being offered for sale by the Seattle Times Co.

The union said it has retained a consulting firm to advise employees about putting together a deal for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and MaineToday.com.

”The Newspaper Guild welcomes any ownership alternative that continues to recognize the importance of union representation of its work force,” the union said. ”The guild also believes that an employee-ownership model backed by community investors would likely serve as the best structure for preserving local control and journalistic integrity.”

Others have expressed interest in the properties, said Charles Cochrane, president and chief executive officer of Blethen Maine Newspapers.

”There’s been a goodly amount of preliminary interest,” he said, noting that potential buyers were signing confidentiality agreements and receiving financial information on the newspapers from the brokers handling the sale.

The Seattle Times announced last month that it decided to sell the Maine newspapers it purchased a decade ago. Officials cited a need for the Seattle Times Co. to focus on the future of its newspapers in Washington state.

The Blethen Maine properties have about 600 employees and combined circulation of about 101,000 daily and 136,900 Sunday.

The guild said its consultant for its possible bid is Ownership Associates Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., whose president, Christopher Mackin, has 30 years of experience in the area of employee ownership.

The union also said it was running an ad in the Maine Sunday Telegram touting employee and local ownership.

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