By: M.L. STEIN
THE SAN MATEO Times, one of California’s last remaining family newspapers, has been sold to the Alameda Newspaper Group (ANG), headed by W. Dean Singleton.
The assets sale includes six weekly publications in the San Francisco Bay Area owned by Amphlett Printing Co., the Times’ parent company.
John H. Clinton Jr., president of Amphlett and publisher of the Times, told E&P the sale is expected to close sometime in March. The selling price was not disclosed.
Clinton explained that, under an assets sale, Amphlett’s employees will be given termination notices in accordance with the federal WARN act (Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act).
“I’ve been assured that the new owners intend to accept and consider job applications from all interested employees,” Clinton added.
The Times, which has labor contracts with six unions, including the Newspaper Guild, will have an “effects” bargaining session with the unions on such issues as severance pay, Clinton said. The new owners will have no obligation to continue the contracts.
The Alameda Newspaper Group, a subsidiary of the Denver-based Garden State Newspapers Inc., operates five daily newspapers in the San Francisco East Bay Region, 12 miles from the Times: the Oakland Tribune, Hayward Daily Review, Tri-Valley Herald, Fremont Argus and the Alameda Times-Star.
Times CEO and general manager Christopher Dix termed the purchase “one of the most significant developments in the paper’s 106-year history. In my opinion, the financial and operational resources to be made available to the Times will enable us to publish an even better daily newspaper for the benefit of readers and advertisers of San Mateo County.”
Published on the suburban San Francisco Peninsula, the Times’ circulation is 39,376.
“We are extremely proud to add the San Mateo Times and its weekly publication to our growing company,” said ANG president and publisher Peter Bernhard. “The Times is an excellent newspaper serving a superb and exciting market with an extraordinary demographic profile.”
With the addition of the Times, ANG’s total circulation will be more than 230,000 with 630,000 readers, Bernhard said. The deal gives Singleton his first holding on the San Francisco side of the bay. The affluent San Francisco Peninsula is already heavily targeted by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Knight-Ridder-owned San Jose Mercury News and several weeklies.
The Times was founded in 1889 and acquired by Horace W. Amphlett in
1918. In 1944, Clinton’s father, the late
J. Hart Clinton, Amphlett’s brother-in-law, became publisher, a position he held
for more than 40 years. Currently, the majority stockholders are Clinton and his sisters, Mary Ann Linton Gardner, the newspaper’s secretary, and Mary Jane Clinton Zirkel, treasurer and a columnist. Other family members own the remaining shares.
Clinton said the Times is the last family-owned daily in the Bay Area and one of the last in Northern California.
“The shareholders value the tradition of family ownership but first and foremost is the need for the Times to gain access to much needed capital,” Clinton went on. “Secondly, present and future estate tax obligations convinced the
owners that seeking a buyer at this point
in time was the prudent course to follow.”
Singleton is CEO of the Houston-based Media News Group, whose holdings besides Garden State, include the Denver Post and several other newspapers across the country.