Highlands Today changes hands
TBO.comMedia General Inc. announced Monday it has sold the Tampa Tribune, including Highlands Today and its associated print and digital products, to a private equity investment company for $9.5 million.
Published: October 9, 2012
Published: October 9, 2012
The sale between Media General and Los Angeles-based Revolution Capital Group closed Monday morning.
A newly created Tampa-based company called the Tampa Media Group will run the media operation. It will be privately held.
Robert Loring, Revolution Capital's founder and managing partner, said: "We are delighted to be the new owner of The Tampa Tribune, a newspaper with strong brand equity and a long history of serving its readers, advertisers and community exceedingly well. We believe strongly in the value of local content."
Tribune publisher William Barker said Monday, "This is a big day."
"This deal gives us the opportunity to do what makes sense for this local market," Barker told the Tampa Tribune. "It gives us the ability to be outwardly focused and not worry about how some larger corporation leverages us."
Barker said the new ownership is in for the long haul.
"They take a long view of the companies they own," he said.
Loring told the Tribune that some investment funds might look at buying a newspaper as "contrarian," but the Tribune "checked many of the boxes we were looking for in terms of our criteria."
That includes long-running operations, established customers and the potential to add value with investment in new technology.
Asked if the plan was to buy, cut costs and resell, Loring said it was not.
"We are definitely in this for the long haul," he said. "We don't flip businesses."
"It's a bittersweet day for Media General to complete the sale of its last remaining newspaper group," said Marshall N. Morton, president and CEO of Media General.
Media General will retain its NBC television affiliate, WFLA, News Channel 8. However, the newspaper and station will continue a news partnership that began in the late 1990s.
The Tampa Media Group will have 618 employees and will continue to operate the Tribune's affiliated publications: Hernando Today, Highlands Today, Suncoast News, Sunbelt Newspapers and the Spanish-language publication Centro.
Loring had been vice president at Platinum Equity and director for HIG European Capital Partners in London. Revolution's other founding partner is Cyrus Nikou, who started the lender Funded Capital and previously was managing partner of the financial services company IMC.
Compared with a manufacturing company, a newspaper has a special constitutional role in a democracy, and Loring noted the paper must be willing to challenge the powerful and wealthy, even at the cost of revenue.
"We believe reporters need to be given their independence, and a paper has a responsibility to report accurately on what it finds," he said, adding that Revolution has no interest in directing the paper's political outlook.
With the sale Monday, Media General will become a pure broadcast television and digital media operation.
BH Media Enterprises, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, had purchased 63 daily and weekly Media General newspapers and digital products in May.