UPDATE, MAY 18, 12:32 P.M.: The Freedom Communications' fire sale continues.
A day after announcing the sale of four Midwest newspapers, the Irvine-based parent company of the Orange County Register disclosed it is also dumping all its Texas papers.
El Nuevo Heraldo, The Brownsville Herald, The Monitor in McAllen, The Odessa American, The Mid Valley Town Crier in Weslaco and The Harlingen Valley Morning Star are among the brands Freedom is selling to AIM Media Texas LLC. No terms were announced, and the sale is expected to close in a month.
AIM was created for the deal by Jeremy L. Halbreich, the former chairman and chief executive of the LLC that owned the Chicago Sun-Times and, before that, president and general manager of the Dallas Morning News.
"The attractiveness of these properties is entirely due to their strong performance and the hard work of their associates," says Freedom CEO Mitch Stern in a company statement. "The sale furthers our goal of providing value to our shareholders while at the same time increasing
the financial strength of Freedom."
As you can read in the original post below, or by clicking on the link, Freedom's flagship the Register is poised to have a new owner as well.
ORIGINAL POST, MAY 17, 3:57 P.M.: In a possible warm-up of the sale of its flagship Orange County Register to the San Diego Union-Tribune publisher . . .
. . . Irvine's Freedom Communications today announced the sale of four papers in the Midwest.
Sadly, a Register columnist also disclosed he's battling cancer.
The Telegraph of Alton and The Journal-Courier of Jacksonville, Illinois, The Sedalia Democrat of Sedalia, Missouri, and The Lima News of Lima, Ohio, will be purchased by an affiliate of Philadelphia-based private equity firm Versa Capital Management, LLC, Freedom announced.
Terms of the transaction ere not disclosed, and the sale is expected to close within the next 30 days.
"We believe that commitment and tradition will be carried on by the new ownership," says CEO Mitch Stern in a Freedom statement. "While ensuring that the communities served by these newspapers will continue to receive the best possible service, this transaction also represents an opportunity to add to the financial strength of the company and enhance the value of our shareholders' investments."
After emerging from bankruptcy, Freedom has sold off its television division and is starting to do the same with its newspapers. As of this transaction, the company still owns about 100 publications, including 24 daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, magazines and other specialty publications.
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And no, for the last goddamn time, OC Weekly is not part of the Register, fer chrissakes.
Whatever happens with the Santa Ana daily, Register radio columnist Gary Lycan is hoping the future owner has as good if not a better health plan. He goes public with his battle with advanced prostate cancer in an item buried in a recent column:
I want to give a high-five this week to a reader, Joyce Lawson, whom I met this past week at the Medical Oncology Care Associates in the St. Joseph Cancer Pavilion in Orange. Lawson is one of a large staff of amazing caregivers there who assist patients like me.
I am being treated there for anemia and advanced prostate cancer by the remarkable team of Dr. Sam Huang. I'm getting blood infusions and chemotherapy and at this writing everything is going well.
But back to Lawson, a remarkably upbeat, positive woman who has been with Dr. Huang since 1998. When she heard my name, she looked and said "I recognize you." When I asked her last name and she said "Lawson," I entered a time tunnel back to 1962-63 when both of us were at Santa Ana High School.
"You wrote all about me," she reminded me, and, indeed, I had. She was a rising track star and I profiled her for our high school paper The Generator.
Fast forward 50 years and we re-connected. It reminded me the state of wellness depends not only on good medicine, but wonderful people who touch your lives through all these years. Thank you, Joyce.