Ogden, GateHouse buy Calkins Media newspapers as family exits the business


In April, Calkins Media sold all its broadcast television assets. On June 19, the family-owned company agreed to sell its newspaper assets, exiting the business after nearly eight decades as publishers.

The papers will be divided between a behemoth owned by a publicly traded holding company, GateHouse Media, and the Nutting family-owned Ogden Newspapers Inc.

GateHouse is buying four Pennsylvania dailies--The Courier Times in Bucks County Courier Times, The Intelligencer in Doylestown, Beaver County Times and the Ellwood City Ledger—plus the Burlington County Times in New Jersey. The acquisition includes Calkins Digital.

Ogden Newspapers is buying the daily Uniontown Herald-Standard and the weekly Greene County Messenger, both published in Pennsylvania. Ogden is also buying Calkins’ real estate business, SWC Properties.

New Media Investment Group Inc., which oversees GateHouse, said it agreed to acquire the Calkins properties for $17.5 million, adding that the price was “within New Media’s stated acquisition range of 3.5x – 4.5x LTM (Last Twelve Months) As Adjusted EBITDA.” Ogden did not disclose terms of its acquisition.

The deals were expected to close June 30.

“This decision was made after extensive deliberation by the Calkins family and the knowledge that our businesses could best thrive in a company with broader resources and reach,” Calkins CEO Mark Contreras said in a statement. “I am very grateful for the tremendous creativity, passion and dedication of every Calkins colleague and the support of the Calkins family. It has been a great honor to serve with all of them.”

The decision to sell was a “painful” one, said Calkins board member Stan Ellis.

“Our family always felt that we had the right vision and strategy for adjusting to the changing patterns of news consumers,” he said. “Our concern for the past several years was whether we would have the resources to see that strategy through to its successful conclusion. When it became clear that would not be the case, we came to the painful decision that we would have to find media companies that shared our vision and had the resources to complete what we started.”

In a talk with employees at the Herald-Standard, Ogden CEO Robert Nutting said the papers make a good fit with the group’s southwestern Pennsylvania properties.

“Between Uniontown, Seven Springs and the Pirates, and our West Virginia locations, it’s an ideal fit for us,” he said. “We love southwestern Pennsylvania, the people, the sense of community and the intergenerational commitment that so many families have to the region.” Nutting is the principal owner of the Pittsburg Pirates major league baseball team and chairman of the Seven Springs resort.

With its purchases, GateHouse added to a daily newspaper portfolio of 130 plus some 520 community and business publications. It is owned by New Media Investment Group and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol NEWM.