The ones that got away p.22

By: Robert Neuwirth Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. (CNHI) has been on a roll, assembling the largest stable of daily newspapers in the country. But despite low-interest financing and aggressive bidding, CNHI doesn't win every paper it seeks to buy. Here are some of the ones that the Birmingham, Ala., newspaper company coveted but couldn't get, according to CNHI managers:
October 1997: Gary, Ind., Post-Tribune. Seller: Knight Ridder. Winning bidder: Hollinger International. "We had a price on it and it was outbid. They came back to us asking us to beat it and we said, 'No,'" explains CNHI's chief financial officer Mike Reed.
January 1998: Forest City, N.C., Daily Courier ? circulation 12,000. Seller: Forest City Publishing Co. Winning Bidder: Paxton Media Group.
August 1998: The South Florida Newspaper Network, a chain of 33 weeklies that CNHI hoped to cluster with the Boca Raton News. Sellers: Bruce Warshal and Scott Patterson. Winning bidder: Tribune Co., owner of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. As a result, CNHI says it will sell the Boca Raton paper, most likely to a local investment group led by publisher Michael Martin, Ralph Martin's brother.
August 1998: The Troy (Ohio) Daily News. Seller: the Kuser family. Winning bidder: Pulitzer Publishing. Price: $20 million.
1998: Donrey Media. CNHI initially tried to buy the whole company. The deal fell apart, Ralph Martin explains, because the cash flow multiple was inflated by papers in California that CNHI didn't want. Ultimately, CHNI opted for a smaller deal, taking 28 southern and midwestern Donrey dailies. A few months later, Donrey sold a majority interest in its 10 California titles to William Dean Singleton.
1998: A public proposition. Bronner and Martin confirm that during the past year, CNHI made a hostile effort to take over a publicly traded newspaper company. Neither executive will reveal the outfit they coveted, but both say the deal would have been worth more than $1 billion. Management of the company they targeted revolted, however, adopting restrictions on purchase of its shares to try to ward off a takeover. "There were poison pills and threats of poison pills," says Bronner. "We were young and foolish and cocky," Martin says. The maneuvering forced both companies to "spend money we didn't have," he adds. After months of expensive jockeying, CNHI abandoned the takeover endeavor.
?(Editor & Publisher Web Site: http:www.mediainfo. com) [Caption]
?(Copyright: Editor & Publisher March 6, 1999) [Caption]


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