Tribune Publishing spins off, which Newspapers will it acquire?

Tribune Publishing

The Tribune Co. today completed the spinoff of its newspaper business and changed its name to Tribune Media Company separating its broadcasting and entertainment assets from the Chicago Tribune,  Los Angeles Times , six other daily newspapers as well as the Spanish-language daily (Chicago) and weekly (Los Angeles) Hoy and associated Hispanic properties. The newspaper unit will be called Tribune Publishing and starts trading tomorrow at the New York Stock Exchange. Jack Griffin, CEO of Tribune Publishing, last week said that the "the overarching objective of his company "is to reestablish growth in the top line revenue".  That includes acquiring newspapers.

Tribune Publishing In spite of all the rumors about a sale of Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and/or the other Tribune dailies, Tribune Publishing Co. CEO Jack Griffin says he is not selling newspapers, on the contrary, he is interested on expanding the newspaper group by acquiring more newspapers to offer a larger footprint to national advertisers, Adage reported. The newspaper company is facing industry obstacles and drawbacks like annual revenue declines, cost-cutting and the steady loss of print subscribers.

Mr. Griffin will be leading what has been a shrinking print operation that boasts eight major papers, Chicago magazine and 150 niche publications, such as Hoy and the Jewish Journal. Tribune Publishing does carry a substantial level of debt which may limit its financial capacity to acquire other properties.  Hence, Mr. Griffin will have to content himself with minor acquisitions that may not bring much revenue to a newspaper company with US $1.8 billion in revenue last year.

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At the core of Mr. Griffin's plans are initiatives to boost digital advertising and circulation revenues, including new websites; a metered digital paywall; native advertising; and expanding digital marketing services across all eight properties.
"We think there are more of these opportunities around the country that are geographically adjacent to where we run big papers and big brands, and that over time we can achieve similar kinds of consolidation and acquisition opportunities that are going to add meaningfully to our footprint and our revenue and our profit," Mr. Griffin said."The overarching objective of our company is to reestablish growth in the top line revenue," he added.

My guess is that they probably will not acquire newspapers in  New York, but certainly both in Los Angeles and Chicago if the right opportunity presented itself.

Mr. Griffin claimed that an additional newspaper will not only strengthen the advertising base of the company's larger publications but also help to set up its new digital products.The publishing group also includes some 60 digital properties, which are an increasingly important part of the strategy, he said.Tribune Publishing may buy more print publications in or near the company's existing major markets, anchored by the company's big papers, hoping to bolster its bid to attract national advertisers, as it did with its' US $30 million acquisition of two Maryland newspapers in May -- the Annapolis Capital and the Carroll County Times -- to broaden the company's footprint around in Baltimore Sun (the acquisitions increased its market penetration to 61% from 52%,.) In February, the company also purchased the Baltimore City Paper.

Where will Tribune buy Newspapers?

Owen Van Essen, president at Dirks, Van Essen & Murray in Santa Fe, New Mexico, talked to Portada about Tribune’s plans and possible acquisition of additional newspapers. When asked on the markets he sees stronger opportunities for Tribune to expand, he said: “I believe they would look to add on to any of their existing footprints. We have recently been involved with transactions where they have bought a group of weekly newspapers near their Hartford operation and another two transactions in the Baltimore area both with synergies to their Baltimore Sun. Regarding other major markets, my guess is probably not New York, but certainly both Los Angeles and Chicago if the right opportunity presented itself.”

Hispanic publications

Tribune has also a significant presence in the Hispanic market. Lead by its brand which is a weekly in Los Angeles that also has large sports and home delivered publications and a daily in Chicago. Tribune also publishes the weekly in Fort Lauderdale (part of the offerings of the Fort Lauderdale )., publisher of in Los Angeles tells Portada that is well positioned to grow. He adds that in addition to the print publications, he considers digital as an important growth area where distinctive products for the Hoy audience and its advertisers can be offered.
Tribune has also a significant presence in the Hispanic market. Lead by its Hoy brand which is a weekly in Los Angeles that also has large sports and home delivered publications and a daily in Chicago. Tribune also publishes the weekly El Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale (part of the offerings of the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel). Roaldo Moran, publisher of Hoy in Los Angeles tells Portada that Hoy is well positioned to grow. He adds that in addition to the print publications, he considers digital as an important growth area where distinctive products for the Hoy audience and its advertisers can be offered.

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