Everything you need to know from today’s Projo sale coverage

December 5th, 2013 at 11:08 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

This morning’s coverage of A.H. Belo’s plans to sell The Providence Journal contains a few new nuggets.

First, from Sheryl Jean’s story in A.H. Belo’s own Dallas Morning News (emphasis added):

Jim Moroney, chairman, president and chief executive of A. H. Belo, thinks Providence will attract “several interested parties.”

“The Providence Journal is a powerhouse brand in Rhode Island and will attract a lot of buyers,” he said. “I think you could see some other newspaper companies that have been more acquisitive … and you could see some local people who might be interested in having a stake in the Providence Journal.”

A. H. Belo is not in talks with any potential buyers yet, Moroney said. A. H. Belo plans to separately sell several pieces of property in Providence, including the Journal’s building, he said.

Analyst Barry L. Lucas said the Providence Journal might fetch a higher price than Riverside because it is larger, with better financial performance. Lucas estimates Providence’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to be 5 percent to 9 percent of total EBITDA.

Second, from Callum Borchers’ story in The Boston Globe:

Media appraiser Kevin B. Kamen, president of Kamen & Co. Group Services in Uniondale, N.Y., estimated the Journal’s value at $41 million.

“This is an elevator going down, down, down, and it’s unfortunate because it’s a quality paper,” Kamen said.

(Kamen’s new $41 million estimate of the Projo’s value is down from the estimate of $42 million to $51 million he offered when I asked him the same question three years ago this month.)

Finally, from Paul Parker’s story in The Journal itself:

Sutton said that Stephens will conduct an in-depth study of The Journal, including interviewing people at the paper, going over financial statements and reviewing staffing levels, real estate holdings, equipment and operating systems. Results of the study will be compiled in a book that will be shared with potential buyers. After assembling the book, Stephens will solicit bids for the newspaper and then identify bidders for Belo to consider. …

Selling the newspaper is expected to take at least several months, Sutton said. “It should happen sometime next year.”

The only real estate to be included in the sale would be the company’s printing plant at 210 Kinsley Ave., though the buyer could also purchase the Fountain Street building and its associated parking lots separately, Sutton said. He described the effort to sell the building as “discussions” with local investors and said that no sale is imminent. …

The Journal intends to lease a portion of the headquarters building to Roger Williams University, which is looking for expanded space in Providence for its law school and continuing education programs. The university would lease the first three floors of the building, while the news organization would consolidate its newsroom and offices on the top two floors, Sutton said. The university’s finance committee has recommended the lease to the school’s Board of Trustees, which is scheduled to meet Friday.

A.H. Belo has been pursuing a sale-leaseback deal for Fountain Street like the one it’s apparently close to finalizing with RWU for quite a while – here’s some background on that from last year.

Over at Rhode Island’s Future there’s been some interesting discussion about alternative ownership models from Sam Howard and Tom Sgouros. And at Rhode Island Public Radio, Ian Donnis and Scott MacKay broke down the news on air last night.

I’ll be on Dan Yorke’s “State of Mind” tonight at 7:30 p.m. on myRITV to talk more about the sale.

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2 Responses to “Everything you need to know from today’s Projo sale coverage”

  1. [...] with John Hill and Ian Donnis. For the written word, start with my WPRI.com story on the news and second-day update. On the business side, we have the latest circulation statistics (76,000 on weekdays) and the [...]