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Times-News owner Halifax sold for $280 million

Halifax Media Group, owner of the Hendersonville Times-News and 35 other newspapers, has been sold to the newspaper group New Media for $280 million in cash, New Media and Halifax announced today.

Created in 2010 by a group of investment partners, Halifax bought the Daytona Beach News-Journal and then acquired The New York Times Regional Media Group, which included the Times-News and the Spartanburg Herald-Journal and 23 other newspapers. Within a year Halifax bought 19 newspapers owned by Freedom Communications in North Carolina and Florida, including dailies in Shelby, Gastonia and Burlington.
Halifax newspapers have a total daily circulation of approximately 635,000 and 752,000 on Sundays. Combined digital traffic amounts to more than 80 million page views a month, the Daytona Beach News Journal reported on its website. The company has nearly 3,000 employees.
New Media, a New York-based publicly traded company, is one of the largest publishers of daily newspapers and online media in the U.S. It owns 450 community publications and more than 370 related web sites. New Media has been aggressive in acquiring newspapers, spending about $430 million to buy local newspapers and websites over the past year, including the Halifax deal announced today, the News Journal reported.
Before the acquisition announcement on Wednesday, the stock of New Media (NEWM) closed at $18.42, $8.07 above its 52-week low.

On its website, New Media touts the longevity of the newspapers it owns. The company says its growth strategy is to acquire traditional media businesses and transform them from "print-centric operations to dynamic multi-media operations ... "

"More than 84% of our daily newspapers have been published for more than 100 years and 100% have been published for more than 50 years," the company said. "We believe that the longevity of our publications demonstrates the value and relevance of the local information that we provide and has created a strong foundation of reader loyalty as well as a highly recognized media brand name in each community we serve.

"New Media will create stockholder value through growth in our revenue and cash flow by expanding our digital marketing services business, growing our online advertising business, and pursuing strategic acquisitions of high quality local media assets," the company said. "Our strategy will be to acquire and operate traditional local media businesses and transform them from print-centric operations to dynamic multi-media operations, through our existing online advertising and digital marketing businesses. We will also leverage our existing platform to operate these businesses more efficiently. We believe all of these initiatives will lead to revenue and cash flow growth for New Media."

Here are more details on the acquisition, from a news release from Business Wire:
New Media intends to fund the acquisition with a combination of cash on the balance sheet and incremental debt under its existing term loan. Halifax Media is a leading newspaper publisher serving communities primarily in the southeastern portion of the United States. Halifax publishes 36 newspapers, including 24 dailies, and affiliated websites, and has a total daily circulation of approximately 635,000 and 752,000 on Sunday.
Michael E. Reed, New Media's President and CEO commented, "This is a very exciting day for our Company. Halifax Media is one of the premier, locally oriented media companies in the United States whose business fits extremely well within New Media. Michael Redding, Chief Executive Officer of Halifax Media, and his team have done a wonderful job building one of the best, local media businesses in the country, and we look forward to continuing their tradition of producing high quality, local content and products serving their communities.
"Halifax's publications are all well-established, leading providers of local news in the communities they serve. The daily newspapers have demonstrated journalistic excellence and have been awarded multiple Pulitzer Prizes. Additionally, the acquisition further diversifies New Media's business from both a geographic and customer standpoint. These markets also present a tremendous opportunity for New Media to expand its digital businesses, Propel and BestRide, as these markets expand our footprint of small and mid-size businesses we will be able to reach.
"I'm also pleased to announce that, not only is this acquisition transformative for New Media, it is accretive as well, and we're excited to close the transaction. Once closed, we will have deployed approximately $430 million in local media assets in a little over one year. As we look toward 2015, we are excited to integrate Halifax's publications into New Media's business, and continue to successfully execute on our strong pipeline of other potential deals."