Big Journal shareholder paring down


Four trusts benefitting heirs of former Journal Communications Chairman Harry J. Grant are selling some of their shares in the company. Even so, they’ll still be major shareholders.

Journal announced that director David Meissner, whose wife is a Grant descendant, has established stock trading plans on behalf of four family trusts in accordance with guidelines specified by the SEC under Rule 10b5-1 and in accordance with the company’s policies with respect to insider trading. Meissner established the plans during the trading window following Journal’s release of its Q4 and full year 2010 earnings on February 15, 2011.

The trading plans cover a total of just under 200,000 shares, the company said, and were entered into for diversification purposes. Sales under the plans are subject to certain minimum price levels, with sales under the plans to take place between April 18, 2011 and July 22, 2011.

As of the company’s last proxy filing the trusts of which Meissner is a trustee held a little over two million Class B and Class C shares of Journal Communications. The Class B and C shares don’t trade publicly, but are convertible at any time, with a Class B share convertible on a 1:1 basis into a publicly traded Class A share and a Class C share convertible into 1.36397 Class A shares. Even after selling off a little less than 10% of those holdings the Grant family trusts will still be far and away the biggest shareholding block at Journal Communications. 

RBR-TVBR observation: Harry J. Grant, the second chairman of The Milwaukee Journal, was so famous that he made the cover of Time magazine in 1954. (He died in 1963 at age 82.) Among other things, he was noted for launching the first ESOP (employee stock ownership program) ever in 1937, making employees into owners as well. The private company ESOP was terminated in 2003 when Journal Communications headed to Wall Street with an IPO, but many employees past and present still own stock in the publicly traded company.