Ten North Carolina newspapers, including the Gaston Gazette and The Star of Shelby, are being sold to a Florida-based publisher.
Freedom Communications of Irvine, Calif., announced Friday that it would sell its North Carolina and Florida newspapers to Halifax Media Group of Daytona Beach. Terms of the sale, which included 12 newspapers in Florida and expected to close in about 30 days, were not disclosed.
Freedom, ridden by debt, has been controlled by JP Morgan Chase and other creditors since emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010. Creditors have been selling off parts of the company in regional segments.
Other N.C. newspapers included in the sale are the Times-News of Burlington, Havelock News, The Daily News of Jacksonville, the Free Press and Jones Post of Kinston, the Sun Journal and The Shopper of New Bern and The Topsail Advertiser of Surf City. Local websites for the publications are included in the transaction.
All employees of the publishing group will be offered jobs with Halifax, the company said.
In December, Halifax acquired from The New York Times regional group the Star-News of Wilmington, the Times-News of Hendersonville, The Dispatch of Lexington, and the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg.
Halifax, launched in 2010, has been aggressively investing in publishing ventures in the Southeast, taking advantage of the depressed market for newspapers, which face bruising competition from online and have been hit hard by the downturn in advertising since the recession. Halifax, whose investment group includes Stephens Capital Partners, JAARSSS Media and Redding Investments, has focused largely on community-based publications that face limited competition in their core markets.
“At Halifax Media Group, we believe in the future of newspapers,” Michael Redding, Halifax CEO, said in a statement. “The purchase of Freedom’s Florida and North Carolina properties further demonstrates our commitment to newspapers, not only for their value as an investment, but for the value they provide to the communities they serve.”
It is the second major transaction involving N.C. newspapers in weeks. In May, papers in Winston-Salem, Hickory, Statesville and Concord were sold to Berkshire Hathaway, controlled by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, by Richmond-based Media General, which has been trying to shed its publishing assets to focus on its broadcast properties.