Newspaper group for sale, but who’s buying?


Journal Register Company has put itself up for sale and retained Lazard Freres & Co. to seek a buyer or buyers for its 22 daily and 310 non-daily newspapers. But investors are doubtful about buyer interest in the current economy and the company’s stock has been trading for less than two bits.

"Lazard Freres will help us evaluate our strategic options. While we are concerned about the state of the overall economy and the environment for print advertising, we generated $90.3 million of EBITDA in 2007, well in excess of our $38.5 million interest expense, reduced debt by $105 million during 2007 and have no scheduled principal payments due until the second quarter of 2009," said CEO James Hall.

RBR/TVBR observation: While there may be billionaires with big egos and more money than sense interested in owning premiere newspaper names like the Los Angeles Times and Philadelphia Inquirer, such deep pockets are unlikely to be bidding for the holdings of Journal Register, whose biggest name is the New Haven Register. Its papers operate in six clusters in Connecticut, New York (2 clusters), Ohio, Michigan and the Philadelphia area.