July 24, 2017 Last Updated 12:54 pm

Digital First Media, LA Times sells CIPS Marketing Group to ACI Last Mile Network

I missed this news when it was first announced, but today the Orange County Register wrote about this sale. Which is all a bit odd, I’ll tell you why.

The story is that CIPS Marketing Group, a print-distribution joint venture of the Los Angeles Times and Digital First Media, was sold to ACI Last Mile Network. What is odd is that the Register is owned by Digital First Network and didn’t report the sale until now.

For Digital First Media this will be a welcome cash infusion. The newspaper chain, which owns other papers in Southern California, and was able to acquire the Register at a bankruptcy auction when Tribune Publishing, owner of the LA Times and San Diego Union Tribune was prevented from doing so by the Justice Department, is loaded with debt. Yet, it acquired the Register and the Riverside Press Enterprise.

In September 2014 the company announced that it would “evaluate and consider strategic alternatives” — in other words, look to sell. But no one came forward, and since then there has been some management changes, the sale of The Salt Lake Tribune to Paul Huntsman in April of 2016, and then the sale of its Connecticut group of publications to Hearst Communications earlier this year.

The other partner in CIPS Marketing Group was the Los Angeles Times, owned by Tronc, formerly Tribune Publishing, and another company that could use the cash infusion. It, too, looked to be on the blocks as Gannett was pursuing it. But Tronc beat off that takeover attempt, despite some shareholders being strongly in favor of the sale.

Here is the announcement for the sale of CIPS Marketing Group to ACI Last Mile Network:

Long Beach, Calif. — July 18, 2017 — ACI Last Mile Network (ACI), the nation’s fastest-growing provider of print media and parcel distribution, announced today that it has acquired CIPS Marketing Group (CIPS), a print-distribution joint venture of The Los Angeles Times and Digital First Media, both newspaper publishers. CIPS will expand ACI’s print media portfolio, increasing its customer base and geographic distribution.

ACI“CIPS is an outstanding organization and our ownership group is thrilled to bring them into our family of companies. This acquisition will strengthen our ability to focus and serve existing customers, and it will enhance our capability to expand and service new clients in underserved geographies,” said Keith Somers, CEO of ACI Last Mile Network.

CIPS’ technology and processes along with ACI’s current robust distribution for Total Market Coverage (TMC) and other print media, will increase ACI’s agility in a highly competitive market. “This is a logical next step for us as we grow and expand,” Mr. Somers added, noting that each company will bring its respective strengths to the combined operation.

Advising ACI on the transaction were FocalPoint Partners LLC, an independent investment bank specializing in mergers and acquisitions, the law offices of Greenberg Glusker LLP and the CPA firm Windes.

ACI Last Mile Network print-distribution services include daily and weekly newspaper home delivery and single-copy sales, small parcel distribution, TMC packages, magazines, niche-publication distribution and phone-directory delivery. ACI’s major publishing customers include the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Orange County Register, Palm Beach Post, San Diego Union-Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Yellow Book.

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