Owner of Denver Post wins auction for Boston Herald

By Neal Simpson / The Patriot Ledger - providencejournal.com

Newspaper reports bid at $11.9M; auction judge must approve sale

BOSTON — The second biggest newspaper in Boston is on track to be sold for $11.9 million.

A subsidiary of Digital First, owner of the Denver Post and hundreds of other publications across the country, made the winning bid for the Boston Herald at a closed-door auction held at the downtown Boston offices of the Herald’s bankruptcy attorney, Brown Rudnick, which confirmed the bid selection to The Patriot Ledger. The Boston Herald reported that the bid was for $11.9 million.

Digital First was one of three companies to submit bids for the paper before a deadline Friday, including GateHouse Media, the owner of The Providence Journal, The Patriot Ledger and many other publications across the United States. Digital First also owns the Lowell Sun and the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise in Massachusetts.

The Herald, which had been struggling under significant debt, hired a firm in September to shop the struggling paper around to interested buyers. GateHouse Media was the only one to make an offer at first, agreeing to pay $4,500,000 in cash for the paper plus cover $500,000 in paid time off owed to its employees, according to bankruptcy court documents. The company also said it had agreed to hire about 175 of the Herald’s 240 employees but would be jettisoning its union agreements.

Then early last month, Revolution Media Group LLC submitted a bid that included a $3,000,000 cash payment plus $2,000,000 for severance and $750,000 for paid time off owned employees. Digital First Media made its bid just before Friday’s deadline; it has not yet been made public.

The sale must still be approved by a bankruptcy judge.

The Herald, long positioned as the more conservatively minded answer to the Boston Globe, had close to 900 employees at its peak around 2000 but has struggled under the burden of pension and retirement liabilities while losing subscribers and advertisers to online competitors.

A sale to GateHouse would have been something of a reunion for the company, which once owned a collection of weeklies under its Community Newspaper Company subsidiary before selling them to GateHouse in 2006.

GateHouse went through its own bankruptcy in 2013 and has since grown to include around 130 daily newspapers more than 640 community publications across the country, including the The Enterprise of Brockton, The Cap Cod Times, The Worcester Telegram & Gazette and The Providence Journal.


By Neal Simpson / The Patriot Ledger