January 31, 2017 Last Updated 10:01 am

Dix Communications newspapers sold to Gatehouse Media

The Ohio group has been operated by Dix for 119 years, and now will be owned by New Media Investment Group, which has been employing a roll-up growth strategy

The newspaper division of Dix Communications, Wooster Republican Printing Company, which includes, five daily newspapers in Ohio, has been sold to Gatehouse Media. Dix Communications have operated the local newspapers for 119 years.

The papers are located in Wooster, Kent-Ravenna, Alliance, Ashland, and Cambridge, Ohio. Included in the transaction are Dix weekly publications in Northeast, Central, and Southeast, Ohio, plus niche publications throughout Ohio, the Record Courier reported on its website today.

Any additional details will have to wait until tomorrow, as the Record Courier still holds its news for its print edition first (!).

Gatehouse Media, which is owned by New Media Investment Group, has been using a roll-up strategy to acquire newspapers following its most recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September of 2013.

Later this afternoon New Media issued a press release for this deal, as well as Mail Tribune in Oregon:

NEW YORK, NY – January 31, 2017 — New Media Investment Group Inc. , one of the largest publishers of locally based print and online media in the United States as measured by number of publications, announced today that it has completed the acquisition of the Ohio publishing division of Wooster Republican Printing Company (“WRPC”), and concurrently announced the signing of a sale agreement for the Medford, Oregon Mail Tribune and related assets in separate transactions.

  • Completed the acquisition of the publishing division of WRPC for $21.2 million, within New Media’s stated acquisition range of 3.5x – 4.5x LTM As Adjusted EBITDA.
  • Announced the sale of the Medford, Oregon Mail Tribune and related assets for $15 million, or more than 7.0x 2016 As Adjusted EBITDA, which will result in an estimated 73% gain on the transaction. Rosebud Media, LLC is the acquirer. This sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.

Wooster Republican Printing Company

“New Media is pleased to announce both of these transactions today as both are in line with our goals of creating and maximizing value for our shareholders. We are honored that the Dix family, which owns WRPC, chose us as the future owner for their newspapers which are a great complement to our current footprint in northeastern Ohio,” said Michael E. Reed, New Media President and Chief Executive Officer. “For over a century, the Dix publications have served as the predominant source of local news for the communities in which they serve and we look forward to working with their employees to continue growing these community partnerships.”

The publishing division of WRPC is comprised of five daily and 18 weekly publications across northeastern Ohio and has been privately owned and operated by the Dix family for over a century. Its daily papers include The Daily Record (22,540)the Record-Courier (15,626), The Alliance Review (10,450), the Times-Gazette (9,905), and The Daily Jeffersonian (11,150). In addition to the print publications, the acquisition includes a number of niche publications, websites and a commercial printing operation.

Mail Tribune

“While selling one of our businesses is never easy, the sale of the Mail Tribune represents our continued commitment to pursue strategic transactions that are in the best interest of New Media’s shareholders,” shared Mr. Reed. “First acquired in September 2013 as part of our Local Media Group transaction, the Mail Tribune continues to be a leading daily newspaper in southern Oregon and was recently awarded five first place recognitions from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. We are confident the newspaper will continue to produce in-depth and award-winning content under its new ownership. We would like to thank all the great employees at the Mail Tribune for all their great work during their time as part of our family.

“Despite the strategic sale of the Mail Tribune, New Media remains a net acquirer of local media assets, having deployed over $120 million for acquisitions in 2016 and completing our first acquisition of 2017, as announced today. With a robust pipeline for potential future acquisitions, and an established track record of being disciplined buyers of local media assets, we remain confident in our ability to re-deploy the proceeds from the sale of the Mail Tribune within our stated goals for acquisitions.”

The estimated gain on the transaction is based on internal estimates and management’s current expectations.

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