Sales talks break down between owners of The Gazette and Denver Post

June 14, 2011

Sales talks broke off recently between Freedom Communications, the owner of The Gazette, and MediaNews Group, which owns the Denver Post, according to a story Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal said buyout discussions broke down “amid disagreements over price.” The publication cited “people familiar with the matter” as its sources.

Contacted Tuesday by The Gazette, Freedom spokesman Robert Emmers declined to comment on the report. He wouldn’t confirm whether talks had been taking place between Freedom and MediaNews.

“Freedom is continuing to work with its financial advisors on reviewing its various strategic options,” Emmers said.

He added there is no timetable.

“The process takes as long as it takes,” Emmers said.

Dean Singleton, chairman and CEO of MediaNews and publisher of the Post, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

In addition to The Gazette and flagship newspaper the Orange County Register, Freedom, based in Irvine, Calif., owns about 100 daily and weekly newspapers and eight television stations. Freedom filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2009, emerged from bankruptcy in April 2010 and now is controlled by its creditors.

Denver-based MediaNews went through its own bankruptcy last year. MediaNews and its affiliated companies publish about 60 daily newspapers and 100 non-daily publications in 13 states, according to the company’s website. It also has broadcast interests and a new media division.

The Wall Street Journal and other media reported in March that a sale of Freedom was under way and that potential bidders included MediaNews; the Chicago-based Tribune Co.; the Gores Group, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm that owns radio station operator Westwood One; and Platinum Equity of Los Angeles, which owns the San Diego Union Tribune.

In its story Tuesday, the Journal reported that people close to MediaNews said the company believes Freedom is worth about $700 million, although it wasn’t clear how much MediaNews had offered for Freedom during recent talks.

The Journal’s sources said it’s possible Freedom and MediaNews could resume talks.


Contact the writer at 636-0228



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