After news media company transactions worth more that US$678 million (A$914 million) last year and a quiet start to 2022, deals have resumed with more than 75 newspapers changing hands so far.
In her report for specialist M&A firm Dirks, Van Essen & April, Sara April says most deals included smaller newspapers and local buyers, continuing the theme from last year.
Among these were Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers which acquired two dailies in Connecticut, and CherryRoad Media, adding 17 more Gannett mastheads to its stable of 40 titles, and a further nine from Rust Communications. Rust also sold several northwest Iowa newspapers and related publications to Charles City Press publisher Christopher Hall and his father Gene Hall in Iowa.
April says the Halls will be spinning off the Storm Lake and Cherokee publications to John and Art Cullen of Storm Lake, who own and operate the Storm Lake Times. She quoted Christopher Hall that “newspapers, especially Iowa community newspapers, are still vibrant, thriving businesses, and I expect they have a long future”.
The subject of a 2012 film documentary, The Sun Never Sets (pictured) shown to journalists and the public at the Newseum in Washington in 2013, the Rio Grande Sun in Española, New Mexico was sold by Robert Trapp, whose family had owned it for 66 years. Buyers are a group of local New Mexico investors “dedicated to continuing the Rio Grande Sun and to making New Mexico a better place to live”.
Other transactions included:
-Family-owned 121 Media, based in Frisco, Texas, made its first acquisition with 14 Dallas suburbans from Star Local Media.
-Mid Atlantic Media acquired regional Jewish paper the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, adding it to its strong presence in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.
-In Montana, Brian and LeAnne Kavanagh sold the Shelby Promoter, Cut Bank Pioneer Press, Browning Glacier Reporter and The Valierian to Jesse and Lloyd Mullen’s Ponderosa Publications.
-WV News is acquiring buying three mastheads from Gannett Co, adding them to the eight it already produces.
-View Newspaper Group acquired Michigan’s Sherman Publications, “growing almost every year” to become a locally owned group of 21 community newspapers printed by sister companies Michigan Web Press in Davisburg and Stafford Printing in Greenville.
-J. Louis Mullen acquired three North Dakota newspapers and a shopper from BHG Inc, and also the Gillette News Record in Wyoming, which had been owned by the Kennedy family for decades.
-Finally, O’Rourke Media Group acquired the Sussex Printing Corporation in Seaford, Delaware, a transaction including The Guide, and bringing its six states operation to 23 publications and hyperlocal websites.