Halifax completes acquisition of The Sun, 15 other papers
Published: Friday, January 6, 2012 at 7:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 6, 2012 at 7:12 p.m.
Halifax Media Group of Daytona Beach completed its acquisition of The Gainesville Sun and 15 other regional newspapers from The New York Times Co. for $143 million on Friday, the companies announced.
The New York Times estimates the net after-tax proceeds from the sale will be approximately $150 million.
Halifax Media is a privately held company formed in 2010 that owns The Daytona Beach News-Journal. The company's investment group includes Stephens Capital Partners, JAARSSS Media and Redding Investments.
In a conference call with the newly acquired newspapers Friday afternoon, Halifax Media CEO Michael Redding said the company was attracted to the product quality, to the communities and to the future of news.
"I believe the franchise value and future for newspapers is local news," he said, adding that additional resources could be brought to the group to fulfill that mission.
"We're long-term investors. Our goal is to purchase papers that have products just like this. I don't see anything more than growing."
Sun Publisher Jim Doughton said the new ownership understands the importance of community-based coverage.
"I think the focus on local news and local readership is critical to the community," he said. "It's what differentiates us from national publications, which frankly do a great job, but only we can provide that local coverage that is so important to so many people."
The other newspapers included in the deal are the Ocala Star-Banner, the Lakeland Ledger, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the Winter Haven News-Chief in Florida; and newspapers in Gadsden and Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Spartanburg, S.C.; Hendersonville, Lexington and Wilmington, N.C.; Houma and Thibodeaux, La.; Petaluma and Santa Rosa, Calif.; and the North Bay Business Journal in California.
The Times bought The Gainesville Sun in 1971, the year the newspaper won its second Pulitzer Prize, for editorials on the peaceful desegregation of Florida's schools. The Sun also won a Pulitzer in 1965.
Halifax Media initially approached The New York Times Co. in early 2011 about purchasing The Gainesville Sun, Redding said, noting its proximity to Daytona Beach.
"What started as a one-property call turned into the entire group," he said.