Orange County Business Journal

OC Weekly Sold in Management Buyout of Village Voice Assets

Heidi Kulicke Monday, September 24, 2012

Phoenix-based Village Voice Media Holdings LLC will sell OC Weekly and its 12 other alternative weekly newspapers to a newly formed holding company called Voice Media Group in Denver.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Other publications in the deal include The Village Voice in New York; LA Weekly in Los Angeles, SF Weekly in San Francisco; Westword in Denver; the Houston Press; the Observer in Dallas; Riverfront Times in St. Louis; City Pages in Minneapolis; and New Times titles in Phoenix, Miami and Broward, Fla.

Scott Tobias, currently chief operating officer of Village Voice Media Holdings LLC, is leading the buyout effort. He will be chief executive officer of the new operation, and will join several other executives of the prior owner with equity stakes.

Tobias said private financing will be used to acquire nearly all assets from the current owners Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey.

The deal does not include the Village Voice Media’s online classified ad site Backpage.com, which has been the subject of controversy and boycotts in some markets over its sex-related listings.

Backpage.com will be retained by Larkin and Lacey.

Neither Village Voice Media nor Voice Media Group offered specifics on revenue for Backpage.com.

Tobias told the Wall Street Journal that the newspapers acquired by Voice Media Group are not dependent on revenue from backpage.

OC Weekly Editor Gustavo Arellano told the Business Journal that the deal is not expected to bring any changes to the publications operations in Costa Mesa.

See related OC Insider item in the Sept. 24 print edition of the Business Journal