December 11, 2017 Last Updated 12:55 pm

New owner of the Boston Herald buys into market cheaply and without pension liabilities

GateHouse Media deal still needs court approval, but the deal at $4.5 million is without the assumption of debt or liabilities for chain owned by New Media Investment Group

The news that the Boston Herald had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and might soon be sold off to GateHouse Media slipped by many on Friday and Saturday. But the story is an odd one.

Normally, when a company declares bankruptcy, and will be sold off, a judge conducts an auction. In this case, GateHouse Media is buying the paper for $4.5 million in cash and won’t be picking up the the pension liabilities of the Herald’s unions.

The deal will still have to be approved by the court, but it is unlikely anyone else will want to step in to acquire the struggling tabloid.

“I am very proud of the spectacular management team with whom I have worked hand in hand over the years. And I am equally as proud of the excellent staff in all areas of our company who have worked tirelessly to make the Boston Herald a relevant and respected provider of local and regional news for Boston and the area,” Boston Herald Publisher Patrick J. Purcell said in a letter to employees.

“Boston is a better city for the Herald’s unique and fearless local reporting. Because of all of you, we are well known for our influential political, community, business and sports coverage across the region and beyond.”

If the Herald were the only paper in Boston this would be bigger news, but the Globe dominates the market. Also, it is doubtful that GateHouse Media will pull another fast one like they did in Las Vegas where they bought the paper and then sold if off to Sheldon Adelson. GateHouse already owns the paper in Providence, Rhode Island, so probably see this as part of its network.

Still, one might see some pushback from debtors who don’t like being forced into a corner while the new owner gets to buy their way in cheaply. We’ll see what happens early next year.

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