Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Business

Questions, answers about Tampa Tribune sale

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Why did Media General sell the Tampa Tribune?

A publicly traded media group, Richmond, Va.-based Media General decided to exit newspapers and focus on what it sees as a more profitable niche in broadcast and digital properties. It sold most of its newspaper portfolio to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, but the Tribune was excluded from that deal.

Who is Revolution Capital Group?

A private equity investment group based in Los Angeles. Formed in 2009, it has made relatively few investments to date, including a medical apparel company, a software firm and a manufacturer of ribbons, bows and ties. This is its first newspaper acquisition.

What is the purchase price?

The sale price is $9.5 million. However, after adjusting for working capital and other items, Media General said it is yielding net proceeds before expenses of approximately $2 million.

What's included in the deal?

The newly named Tampa Media Group will have 618 employees and will continue to operate the Tampa Tribune as well as affiliated publications Hernando Today, Highlands Today, Suncoast News, Sunbelt Newspapers and the Spanish-language publication Centro. The deal also includes tbo.com.

What happens with Media General's other property, WFLA-Ch. 8?

WFLA, remaining under the Media General fold, will continue a news partnership with the Tribune though no longer share ownership nor a combined news operation. The Tribune newsroom will move out of a building in downtown Tampa that it now shares with WFLA and into a building next door where the newspaper used to operate.

What about other Tribune assets and liabilities?

Media General did not explicitly address what real estate and assets are included. The Hillsborough Property Appraiser's Office says the land where the News Center and old Tribune building sit is valued at $3.7 million, but does not break down the value of each parcel. Plus, there are millions of dollars in buildings, equipment and other assets. The old Tribune building at 202 S Parker Street has a depreciated value of $935,000 and includes $6.4 million in equipment. Nor were liabilities such as future pension payouts discussed. However, when Media General previously sold the bulk of its newspaper holdings to Berkshire Hathaway, it retained pension liabilities.

What will happen to the newspaper?

The owners said they want to increase the circulation and add more local content. However, they also want to focus on digital news and said the newspaper will be half of what they do.

What will happen to the existing employees' salaries and benefits?

The ownership owner told employees on Monday that their salaries and benefits will stay the same until the end of the year.

Do the new owners plan to hire additional employees?

The owners said they will analyze the staff before making any hiring decisions. They noted that hiring more people may not be the best way to grow the paper.

Will Bill Barker stay on as the Tribune's publisher?

Yes. Media General named him publisher in May. He had been the Tribune's vice president of operations and circulation since 2004 and had worked with Media General since 1990.

What is the status of Media General's inquiry to Tampa about splitting its property overlooking the Hillsborough River?

Pending. Media General is looking to split its properties at the Tribune's old building, and the News Center, which is the home of NBC affiliate WFLA-Ch. 8. Once the public comment period closes this week, the city must make its determination within 30 days.

Times staff writers Jeff Harrington, Susan Thurston, Robert Trigaux and Richard Danielson contributed to this report.

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