Orange County Business Journal

Freedom Sells Newspapers in N.C., Florida

Jerry Sullivan Monday, June 4, 2012

Irvine-based Freedom Communications Inc. has sold two more groups of newspapers as part of a process that’s expected to eventually include its flagship Orange County Register.

The latest deal saw Daytona Beach, Fla.-based Halifax Media Group buy nine of Freedom’s newspapers in North Carolina and 10 in Florida.

Terms of the deal were undisclosed. They follow last year’s sale of Freedom’s eight TV stations for $385 million, a transaction that is believed to have cleared any debt remaining after its 2010 bankruptcy. Freedom sold a smaller group of newspapers in Texas and New Mexico, and another in the Midwest, for undisclosed terms in separate deals earlier this year.

The sale of the North Carolina and Florida publications leaves Freedom with about 35 newspapers, down from more than 100 at the company’s peak. The total includes seven dailies, with the Register and the Colorado Springs Gazette the two largest in its fold.

Recent reports indicate that Freedom is in serious talks to sell the Register to San Diego developer Doug Manchester, who recently bought the San Diego Union-Tribune and renamed it UT-San Diego.

Halifax was formed two years ago and has been building a roster of newspapers in the southeastern U.S. Late last year it paid the New York Times a reported $143 million for 16 newspapers in the region.