Gannett Co., the largest newspaper company in the U.S., has agreed to buy Journal Media Group, the owner of The Commercial Appeal
, for about $280 million.
The two companies announced the deal yesterday in a move that even apparently took the Appeal
by surprise as its earliest reporting of the merger was attributed to a story from the Wall Street Journal
The move comes only after one year since E.W. Scripps Co. announced it would spin off its newspaper division. Thirteen Scripps papers, including The Commercial Appeal
, were to be teamed with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
to form a new company called Journal Media Group.
But the ink on that deal is barely dry as it closed just about six months ago at the end of March.
The new deal with Gannett will make that company the owner of all but one of Tennessee’s major newspapers. The company owns the Nashville Tennessean
and if the deal with Journal Media is complete it will own The Commercial Appeal
and the Knoxville News-Sentinel
. The Chattanooga Times Free Press
is privately owned by WEHCO media, a family company, according to the newspaper.
Not much is yet known about what effects the deal may have at The Commercial Appeal. However, the news release about the merger did note that the “acquisition will also enable the combined company to realize significant operating efficiencies. The properties in Journal Media Group’s markets will benefit from the consolidated functions Gannett has established over the last several years.”
But here’s what the leaders of the two companies said in a news release yesterday:
Tim Stautberg, president and chief executive officer of Journal Media Group -
“This transaction marks a critical next step in the transformation of our industry as we build local media brands that matter at a time when operational scale is a competitive advantage. Both Journal Media Group and Gannett are guided by a vision of strengthening lives and communities, and we’ll be better stewards in our local markets by sharing ideas, content and best practices among our new and larger family.”
Robert J. Dickey, president and chief executive officer of Gannett -
“Our merger will combine the best of each of our organizations to create a journalism-led, investor-focused company which will provide substantial value to the shareholders of both companies. This transaction is an excellent first step in the industry consolidation strategy we have communicated to our shareholders and is a good example of the value-creating opportunities we believe are available.”
If the merger is approved by stakeholders, Gannett will have a portfolio of 106 newspapers “and will result in a combined digital audience of more than 100 million unique domestic visitors a month.”