Morris Publishing to sell several newspapers

Morris Publishing to sell several newspapers
Morris Publishing Group has announced the sale of several daily, weekly and shopper newspaper publications to a New York publishing firm. The deal includes the sale of four publications that comprise the Yankton Publishing Group, including the Broadcaster and the Plain Talk, both of Vermillion, and the Press & Dakotan and the Missouri River Shopper, both of Yankton.

On Tuesday, Morris announced the $115 million sale to GateHouse Media, Inc., based in Fairport, NY.

The deal, which is subject to a working capital agreement, is expected to be finalized Nov. 30 and is subject to regulatory and Morris Publishing's lender approval and customary closing conditions.

Other properties being sold include the Dodge City (KS) Daily Globe, The Newton (KS) Kansan, The (Pittsburg, KS) Morning Sun, the Hillsdale (MI) Daily News, The Holland (MI) Sentinel, the Hannibal (MO) Courier-Post, The (Independence, MO) Examiner, The Grand Island (NE) Independent, the York (NE) News-Times, The Daily Ardmoreite (OK), The Shawnee (OK) News-Star, The Oak Ridger (TN), and the News Chief (Winter Haven, FL).

The non-daily newspapers include La Estrella (Dodge City, KS), and The Girard (KS) City Press. The commercial printing operation is Flashes Publishing (MI), which also publishes The Holland Sentinel and the Flashes Shopping Guides (MI), related free nondaily community publications included in the sale.

"We see this as a real positive for the South Dakota properties," said Gary Wood, publisher of the Yankton Publishing Group. "GateHouse Media, Inc., appears to be a company committed to community newspapers and the development of relationships in the community, making a positive impact on the communities they serve. We will let the community know more as we know more."

In a press release, Mike Reed, chief executive officer of GateHouse, said, "This is an excellent acquisition opportunity for GateHouse. These are strong local media franchises in small markets, many of which are near existing GateHouse properties and offer compelling synergy opportunities."

William S. Morris IV, Morris Publishing Group's chief executive officer and president, said, "While it is difficult to say goodbye, this sale is in line with our strategic plan to focus on our larger markets and will enable us to pay down our existing bank debt. We greatly appreciate the work by the employees of these great newspapers during the time they've been a part of Morris."

GateHouse Media, Inc., is one of the largest publishers of locally-based print and online media in the United States, as measured by its 86 daily publications. GateHouse Media currently serves local audiences of more than 10 million per week across 19 states through hundreds of community publications and local Web sites.

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