AUGUSTA, Ga. – As part of a strategic restructuring to focus its business on lifestyle publications, property development and new business, Morris Communications Co. announced Wednesday that it has signed an agreement to sell the assets of Morris Publishing Group, including The Topeka Capital-Journal, to GateHouse Media.
The sale includes 10 other daily newspapers, numerous non-daily publications and associated websites and digital assets. The transaction is expected to close on Oct. 2, 2017. Terms were not disclosed.
GateHouse Media is a division of New Media Investment Group, a publicly traded company (NEWM) on the New York Stock Exchange. It is one of the largest newspaper companies in the country, owning more than 130 daily newspapers and more than 500 non-daily publications across the United States, including The Garden City Telegram.
“I appreciate GateHouse Media’s innovative digital marketing solutions and client-centric focus, which, I believe, opens endless opportunities that get results for our advertisers,” said Zach Ahrens, president and publisher of The Topeka Capital-Journal. “I look forward to taking advantage of GateHouse Media’s tools and resources so we can serve our community in the best way possible. This acquisition will solidify a tremendous network of award-winning journalists and advertising opportunities across Kansas. I anticipate great synergies with the existing GateHouse operations across the state.”
Under terms of the sale, Ahrens will continue in his role as publisher of The Topeka Capital-Journal. Billy Morris will continue as publisher of The Augusta Chronicle and will oversee editorial-page policy for the three Morris newspapers in Georgia.
“GateHouse is very excited to welcome the Morris publications and their employees into our Company,” said Michael E. Reed, New Media President and Chief Executive officer. “For over 80 years, the Morris family has built and operated an incredible collection of local media assets. We are honored that the family has chosen us to uphold the rich tradition of journalism and innovation they have established. This transaction will expand our footprint into new states and add some very attractive markets to our local media portfolio. We see strong synergies between our two companies and look forward to the value creation opportunity that will exist as we combine the portfolios.”
“Every newspaper company in America is battling trends and redirected advertising dollars, so it is necessary for newspapers to be part of a large newspaper group to build and maintain the necessary resources to compete,” said Morris. “We are deeply grateful for the many friendships and business relationships we have enjoyed for these many years and look forward to the impact the next generation will make.”
Daily papers included in the sale, in addition to The Topeka Capital-Journal, are The Augusta Chronicle, the Savannah Morning News, the Athens Banner-Herald, The Florida Times-Union and The St. Augustine Record in Florida, the Amarillo Globe-News and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in Texas, Conway (Ark.) Log Cabin Democrat, and the Juneau Empire and Kenai Peninsula Clarion in Alaska.