Make us your home page
Instagram

Media General considers sale of newspaper operations

Media General Inc., the parent company of the Tampa Tribune, said Thursday it is exploring the potential sale of newspaper operations.

The Richmond, Va.-based media conglomerate said it has received inquiries from several third parties about buying "certain print assets."

Company spokesman Ray Kozakewicz declined to discuss which of its 23 papers may be sold or disclose any potential buyers.

The company hired banking advisory firm Peter J. Solomon Co. to help weigh its options.

Media General, which also owns WFLA-TV News Channel 8 and TBO.com, has been under pressure to alleviate more than $650 million in debt amid sagging revenues.

Executives warned investors in January that the company is "uncomfortable with its ability to remain in compliance" with the terms of about $360 million in debt that comes due in March 2013. But lenders gave the company some breathing room with a short-term bridge agreement last week.

The company lost $74 million in 2011, with newspapers in particular hurting its bottom line. Revenues for its Florida print operations were down more than 12 percent to $75 million last year.

In December, Media General announced it was cutting 165 staffers at the Tribune and smaller nearby operations in Tampa, a 16 percent reduction.

Shares in Media General tumbled to nearly $1 a share last fall, but have since recovered somewhat. The stock closed Thursday at $5.01 a share.

The potential selloff of newspapers was disclosed after the close of market, spurring a 5 percent boost in after-market trading.

While the Tampa Bay Times is often mentioned as a potential buyer of the Tribune, company chairman and CEO Paul Tash said the Times was not among those who recently contacted Media General.

Nonetheless, "We're always interested in opportunities in the Tampa Bay marketplace," Tash said. "Our priority remains advancing our own success."

Among other potential Tribune buyers is Halifax Media Group, a company that recently bought a chain of papers owned by the New York Times, including the Sarasota Herald Tribune, the Ledger in Lakeland and the Gainesville Sun. Halifax CEO Michael Redding could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

The Tribune's circulation stands at 254,782 on Sundays and 125,867 during the week, according to the latest industry figures. The Times has Sunday circulation of 403,229 and weekday circulation of 240,024.

Patrick Manteiga, publisher of La Gaceta in Tampa, expressed concern that the Tribune may fold at some point.

"When you have cut so deeply, as they have in their news department, it kind of takes away the only reason to buy the Tribune, which is news," he said. "It looked like the paper was headed down a road of no return."

Hillsborough County Commission Mark Sharpe lamented hard times for any paper, saying that newspapers help keep government honest.

"I never like it when I hear of the potential sale of a newspaper, particularly the Tampa Tribune, which has a long history in our community," he said.

Staff writers Bill Levesque and Bill Varian contributed to this report. Jeff Harrington can be reached at jharrington@tampabay.com.

Media General considers sale of newspaper operations 02/22/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 11:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.