Floyd Sparks to Sell 3 California Papers

Times Staff Writer

Pioneer California newspaper publisher Floyd Sparks, 85, agreed Wednesday to sell his three Northern California daily newspapers to Garden State Newspapers for a price that insiders estimated at about $68 million.

Sparks, who entered the newspaper business when he bought the Oroville, Calif., Mercury-Register in 1932, sold the Daily Review in Hayward, the Argus in Fremont and the Tri-Valley Herald in Livermore, all suburban cities located east of the San Francisco Bay. The sale also includes a free weekly paper, the Enterprise.

The three daily papers have a combined circulation of 93,000, with the largest, the Review, having a circulation of 45,587.

Garden State is a new newspaper company 40% owned by Media General and 60% owned by New Jersey newspaper executives W. Dean Singleton and Richard B. Scudder. In April, the company bought two suburban daily newspapers and six weekly papers in Massachusetts. Scudder and Singleton also own six daily papers in Ohio and New Jersey.


The sale is scheduled to become final July 1.

Officials at the California papers were told by the new owners Wednesday that Garden State intends no major changes and that Sparks will remain publisher as long as he wants.

Employees also were told that Garden State hopes to make the papers more profitable by boosting circulation and advertising and not by cutting expenses. Singleton, who is publisher of the Gloucester County Times in Woodbury, N.J., is known to have expanded staff and news pages at his other papers as a strategy for growth.

Singleton, 34, was formerly president of Albritton Communications. Scudder, 72, is chairman of Garden State Paper and the inventor of a process to make recycled newsprint. He was publisher of the Newark (N.J.) News for 20 years.


Media General is a diversified media company based in Richmond, Va. Its daily newspapers include the Richmond Times-Dispatch News-Leader in Virginia, the Tampa Tribune in Florida and the Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel in North Carolina.