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Orange County Register owner to buy Riverside Press-Enterprise

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Freedom Communications Holdings Inc., which owns the Orange County Register, has agreed to purchase the Riverside Press-Enterprise from its owner, A.H. Belo Corp., both companies said Thursday.

The acquisition is part of a series of aggressive moves by Freedom, which has been rapidly expanding the Orange County Register, adding staff, pages and new editions, and launched the Long Beach Register, a new five-day daily newspaper in August.

Freedom Communications will pay $27.25 million for the Press-Enterprise, its production facility and related land, the companies said. The transaction is expected to close in mid-October subject to customary closing conditions, the companies said.

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The Press-Enterprise will continue to operate out of headquarters in Riverside.

Aaron Kushner, owner and chief executive of Freedom Communications, said: "The Press-Enterprise is a Pulitzer Prize-winning institution with a rich history in serving and connecting the community. We are most appreciative of the stewardship provided to this important institution by A.H. Belo and we look forward to continuing to build upon that foundation and expand the ways the Press-Enterprise helps its subscribers, advertisers and community grow and thrive."

In addition to the Press-Enterprise, Dallas-based A.H. Belo publishes the Dallas Morning News, the Providence Journal and the Denton Record-Chronicle in Denton, Texas.

"We are pleased to have found a partner in Freedom Communications to purchase the Press-Enterprise assets who we know will continue to support journalism as we have in the critical inland Southern California region," said Jim Moroney, chairman, president and chief executive of A.H. Belo. "We thank our colleagues in Riverside for their hard work and support as we have been privileged to own and operate the Press-Enterprise for the past 16 years. The proceeds received in this transaction will provide funds for A.H. Belo to continue to diversify its revenue streams and increase shareholder returns in the future."

Shares of A.H. Belo were up 20 cents, or 2.6%, to $7.79 early Thursday.

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