Paper: New Times, Village Voice Merger Likely

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By: E&P Staff

Talk of a potential merger between Village Voice Media and New Times is growing louder. Rumors have been surfacing for weeks that the two alternative chains plan to join in what could be one of the largest deals in the alt-media world.

On Monday, Tim Redmond of The San Francisco Bay Guardian reported that he had obtained documents — dated May 27, 2005 — “that appear to be valid” regarding an alleged merger.

In the agreement outlined in the documents, a nine-member board would control a combined company called Newco. The New Times would obtain five seats and would own 62% of the equity; Village Voice Media would get four seats and would own 38% of the equity.

The Phoenix-based New Times publishes 11 newspapers including the SF Weekly — rival of the Guardian. Village Voice Media, which is headquartered in New York City, has six papers including the venerable Village Voice.

Calls made to New Times and Village Voice Media were not returned as of Tuesday afternoon. Roxanne Cooper, a spokeswoman for The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, declined to comment.

According to the Guardian, the documents peg Nov. 30, 2005 as a closing date. The Justice Department would have to be notified of any potential deal.

Among those who would be directors of the board include Jim Larkin, CEO of New Times, and Mike Lacey, the company’s executive editor. David Schneiderman, CEO of Village Voice Media, would also have a seat. The remaining seats (after New Times chooses two more directors) would go to investors of both New Times and Village Voice Media, suggesting that the company would eventually go up for sale.

The company would also have to honor the contracts of employees at the unionized Village Voice.

The Guardian also reports that staffers at both companies “seem unaware of the details of the talks, and top management has refused to answer their questions about the situation.”

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