Newspaper deals are coming at a steady clip nowadays. On Monday, 2100 Trust LLC, the investor group led by former greeting card exec Aaron Kushner, announced it had purchased Freedom Communications -- which publishes the Orange County Register and a number of other smaller newspapers -- for an undisclosed sum.
In addition to the flagship OC Register, 2100 Trust will also pick up the Irvine Appeal-Democrat, Barstow Desert Dispatch, The Porterville Record and the Victorville Daily Press -- all in California -- as well as The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and The Sun in Yuma, Arizona. The group will also take ownership of a number of specialty publications and associated digital properties.
The Boston-based investor group seems to have a taste for newspapers, having acquired a majority stake in MaineToday Media Inc. -- which publishes the Portland Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal and Waterville’s Morning Sentinel -- back in January of this year. The same group tried unsuccessfully to buy The Boston Globe from the New York Times Co. in 2010-2011.
The sale of the OC Register and its other remaining newspapers wraps up Freedom Communications’ run as an independent media company, completing the divestiture of newspaper and broadcast TV properties, which began as part of the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from September 2009-April 2010.
It also frustrates plans by San Diego-area real estate developer Doug Manchester to acquire the OC Register. Manchester’s media company, MLIM, LLC, acquired the San Diego Union-Tribune in November 2010, with the avowed intention of turning the newspaper into a politically conservative, pro-business platform. In May, the Union-Tribune’s CEO, John Lynch, hinted that MLIM was interested in acquiring the OC Register, along with a number of other newspapers from Freedom.