Morris Communications announces sale of newspaper publications to GateHouse Media
Morris Communications has announced that it is selling 11 of its daily and non-daily newspaper holdings, its Lubbock, Texas-based commercial printing operation and other related publications to GateHouse Media, Inc. The sale is part of the company's strategic restructuring to focus its business on lifestyle and niche publications, broadband operations, property development and new business and is expected to be finalized on Oct. 2.
The daily newspapers offered in the sale include The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville); The St. Augustine (Fla.) Record; The Savannah (Ga.) Morning News; The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle; The Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald; Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal; Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News; the Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal; Log Cabin Democrat (Conway, Ark.); Juneau (Alaska) Empire; Peninsula Clarion (Kenai, Alaska); and Homer (Alaska) News. The commercial printing operation is West Texas Printing.
William S. "Billy" Morris III, chairman of Morris Communications, will remain as publisher of The Augusta Chronicle and will oversee editorial-page policy for the three Morris newspapers in Georgia.
Morris said, "Since 1929, the Morris family has had a great love and passion for journalism and the local communities that they serve. However, every newspaper company in America is battling trends and redirected advertising dollars, so it is necessary for newspapers to be part of a large newspaper group to build and maintain the necessary resources to compete. We are deeply grateful for the many friendships and business relationships we have enjoyed for these many years and look forward to the impact the next generation will make."
As part of the restructuring, all Morris Publishing Group magazines will be managed under Morris Media Network. Derek May, formerly president of Morris Publishing Group, will take a new leadership role as the chief operating officer of the newly restructured company.
William S. Morris IV, president and CEO of Morris Communications, said, "As the company transitions to the 3rd generation of leadership, we are enthusiastic about our plans to diversify our business holdings with print and digital communications, broadband and real estate development. We have found a wonderful buyer for the newspapers in GateHouse, as they are strongly committed to providing good community coverage for readers and effective solutions for advertisers. We will work closely with the new owners for a smooth transition over the coming weeks."
Moorgate Securities and Avondale Communications acted as financial advisors to Morris Publishing Group in connection with this transaction.