News Corp. has sold its U.S.-based community newspaper group -- eight daily newspapers and 15 weeklies -- to an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group, an asset management firm.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Rupert Murdoch's media company acquired the small papers as part of its 2007 acquisition of Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Wall Street Journal.
The Stockton Record was the only California newspaper in the collection. News Corp.'s Dow Jones Local Media Group owned two Oregon papers: the Medford Mail Tribune and the Ashland Daily Tidings.
The group's other daily newspapers were situated on the East Coast, and included the Cape Cod Times of Hyannis, Mass.,the Standard-Times of New Bedford, Mass., the Herald of Portsmouth, N.H., the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y., and the Pocono Record of Stroudsburg, Penn.
“We are confident that the papers will prosper under the new owners, but they were not strategically consistent with the emerging portfolio of the new News [Corp.]," Chief Executive Robert Thomson said Tuesday in a statement announcing the divestiture.
Murdoch's company also owns dozens of community newspapers in the mogul's native Australia.
A News Corp. spokeswoman declined Tuesday to say whether the company planned to shed other small titles as it pursues its strategy of globalization and digitization. This summer, Thomson told investors the new News Corp., in the wake of the corporate split with the film and TV assets, would look to cut costs and focus on "premium content and iconic brands."
"Brands are a platform in the digital age," Thomson said.
Wells Fargo Securities media analyst Eric Katz wrote in a research report, "Management's attention appears to be on leveraging its more well-known national brands (i.e. Wall Street Journal), as well as cutting costs, so we are not surprised by the announced sale of this relatively small local newspaper business."
It has been a busy summer for the sale of newspapers, which have seen revenue plummet in recent years. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos acquired the Washington Post for $250 million in early August from the Graham family, the longtime controlling owners. The Post sale was announced just a few days after the New York Times Co. sold the Boston Globe to investor John W. Henry, the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox.
The Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, had its eight newspapers on the auction block this spring before pulling the papers back to focus on a public offering for the Tribune broadcast group. News Corp. was reportedly interested last year in a possible acquisition of some Tribune assets, but has since downplayed any interest.
GateHouse Media will take over management of the Dow Jones Local Media group.
Waller Capital Partners advised Dow Jones on the sale of the community papers.
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