The New York Times Company has tentatively agreed to sell The Press Democrat, the Petaluma Argus-Courier and the North Bay Business Journal to a Florida media group, Publisher Bruce Kyse said today.
Halifax Media Group, a Daytona Beach, Fla.-based company that owns The Daytona Beach News-Journal, is poised to buy the Times Company's Regional Media Group, which consists of 16 newspapers and related websites.
"The deal could be signed at any time," Kyse told Press Democrat staff Monday morning.
Once signed, the sale would take about two weeks to close, Kyse said. Terms and other details were not available, in part because news leaked out before the companies planned, Kyse said.
On Monday morning, the Halifax Group's website listed all of the Times Company's regional papers as its own, tipping off media blogger Jim Romenesko. The page was promptly taken down.
Kyse said he expects to be able to release additional information about the deal — such as the new owners' plans and the impact on employees — over the coming weeks.
"There's only so much you can say until the deal is complete," Kyse said.
Times officials have said they expect the "vast majority" of employees will be offered jobs at comparable salary and benefits, Kyse said.
The Halifax Media Group is relatively new, having been formed to purchase The Daytona Beach News-Journal in 2010. One of its key investors is Stephens Capital Partners, a Little Rock, Ark.-based private equity firm that has newspaper holdings across the country.
"They are newspaper people," Kyse said.
The deal would bring to an end to the New York Times' 26-year ownership of The Press Democrat, which it purchased from the Finley family in 1985. The paper was founded in 1897 by Ernest L. Finley.
Combined, the Regional Media Group has a Monday to Friday circulation of 433,251 and 1,755 full-time employees.
The Times Company has shed assets as it tries to focus on its anchor newspapers, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and the International Herald Tribune. In July, the company sold more than half of its stake in the Fenway Sports Group, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, for $117 million.
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