LA Weekly is being sold to Semanal Media, a mysterious new company

LA Weekly’s owner, Voice Media Group, has agreed to sell the alternative weekly newspaper as it sheds print assets and focuses on its digital business, a representative for Voice Media confirmed Wednesday.

The buyer, Semanal Media, is a new entity created for the purpose of this transaction, said Sara April at Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a merger and acquisition firm that is representing Voice Media in the sale. April would not say who owns Semanal or where the company is based.

The deal is expected to close “in the next couple of weeks,” April said. Terms were not disclosed.

Voice Media announced in January that it was putting LA Weekly up for sale. It said at the time that the publication, founded in 1978, was still profitable.

LA Weekly’s print edition is distributed throughout the city and is free for readers to pick up. It was once thick with news and culture articles, criticism, columns and calendar listings — and ads — but the publication and its newsroom have shrunk in recent years as news publications struggle to make money in the internet age. About a dozen editorial staffers remain on the payroll.

Those staffers’ fates are unclear. On Wednesday afternoon, staff members who are part of the International Assn. of Machinists & Aerospace Workers union received a notice from LA Weekly Chief Financial Officer Jeff Mars saying that when the sale closes, their “employment with the company will terminate.” Eligible employees will receive severance payments, the notice says.

A representative for Semanal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After the deal closes, Denver-based Voice Media will no longer have a presence in California, April said.

As part of its selling spree, Voice Media jettisoned San Francisco’s SF Weekly in 2013. Last year, it sold Orange County’s OC Weekly to Duncan McIntosh Co., which publishes nautical magazines. It continues to own the Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Denver Westword, Dallas Observer and Houston Press.

This has been a difficult autumn for alternative weeklies. A month ago, New York’s famed Village Voice — which Voice Media sold off in 2015 — published its final print edition, going online only. And last week, OC Weekly’s editor in chief, Gustavo Arellano, resigned after refusing to cut half his staff.

lauren.raab@latimes.com


UPDATES:

4:00 p.m.: This article was updated with information about a notice from LA Weekly's chief financial officer and with additional background information.

This article was originally published at 3:20 p.m.

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