Palm Beach Post, Daily News to be sold to fast-growing GateHouse

One of the nation’s busiest acquirers of newspapers and online media has agreed to buy The Palm Beach Post and Palm Beach Daily News in a deal announced Wednesday at $49.25 million.

New York-based New Media Investment Group Inc. executives said more than a century as market news leaders and growing digital readership made the sister publications attractive additions to a GateHouse Media stable of more than 140 daily newspapers. That represents more than one in 10 in the country.

The papers and associated websites have been owned since 1969 by Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises. The sale is expected to be completed by May.

“We see Palm Beach as another attractive and growing market that fits in well with our current Florida footprint,” said Michael E. Reed, New Media’s president and CEO. He called the papers “the primary source of news in their respective communities for over 100 years” and said they have “created high digital engagement that we are excited to work to build upon.”

Publicly-traded New Media Investment Group has been on a buying spree in an industry grappling with change and consolidation. Earlier this month, the company announced it had agreed to purchase another Cox property, the Austin American-Statesman newspaper and related publications in Texas, for $47.5 million.

“We are so grateful to the talented team in Palm Beach for their relentless execution of quality journalism and service to the community,” said Kim Guthrie, president of Cox Media Group. “When selecting a buyer for both papers, we sought a company that would build on their role as trusted local brands. We know The Post will make GateHouse proud.”

Cox announced its Palm Beach and Austin papers were for sale last fall. Privately-held Cox will continue to operate newspaper businesses in Atlanta and Ohio, markets where it also owns radio and TV stations.

With the purchase, GateHouse extends a growing Florida presence that will reach for the first time into the state’s southeastern corridor. The company owns 20 other Florida newspapers, with 11 dailies in cities including Sarasota, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Gainesville and Lakeland.

As the market’s flagship daily newspaper, The Palm Beach Post has daily print and paid digital circulation of nearly 80,000 and 102,000 on Sundays, according to the company.

The Palm Beach Daily News, also known as The Shiny Sheet, has been published for 120 years. The Shiny Sheet has a daily circulation of more than 4,500 and is printed daily from October to May and twice weekly during the summer.

Print and online versions of the publications reach more than 44 percent of adults in the market, officials said.

Cox will retain ownership of the Palm Beach Post building at Dixie Highway and Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach. The seven-acre parcel has a market value of $15.4 million, according to the Palm Beach Property Appraiser’s Office.

At the start of 2018, New Media Investment operated in more than 565 markets across 38 states. The company says it “supports small to mid-size communities by providing locally-focused print and digital content to its consumers” as well as marketing and technology services for small and medium-sized businesses. Executives figure they reach more than 22 million people a week and serve approximately 215,000 business customers.

Some 85 percent of its daily newspapers have been published for more than 100 years, New Media Investment Group’s website notes.

New Media Investment Group says it is externally managed and advised by an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group LLC, a global investment management firm. Before Wednesday’s announcement, company officials said they had spent more than $891 million on acquisitions in recent years.

“We are looking forward to welcoming the Palm Beach employees to the New Media team and look forward to carrying on their legacy of strong local journalism,” Reed said.

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