The Tampa Bay Times will receive a $ 21 million injection following the sale of its former print shop and 27 acres of land on which it is located. in a deal announced on tuesday…
The buyer is Twenty Lakes Holdings, a commercial real estate subsidiary of the hedge fund Alden Global Capital. Alden has risen to prominence in recent years for aggressively seeking acquisitions in the newspaper industry – most recently when it bought Tribune Publishing in May – and then slashed editorial and other spending dramatically.
However, this appears to be just a real estate deal. The Times cleared the printing equipment that was sold for scrap. He plans to lease back a portion of an empty building for distribution of newspapers, which he said the buyer will use as a warehouse.
Thus, the deal does not imply the purchase of any entry into the independent local property of The Times, owned by Poynter, founded in 1975 by Nelson Poiner, who left his stake in the newspaper to her after his death in 1978. takeover bid from the Texas-based Bass family companies in the 1980s.
In recent years, the Times, like the rest of the industry, has suffered a sharp loss in ad revenue, and as a result, has gradually taken over and refinanced debt. The sale will allow the company to significantly reduce that burden, including paying off debt held by a group of eight local individuals, including Paul Tash, Times CEO and Chairman of Times and Poynter, which originally provided $ 15 million in loans.
Times President Conan Gallati wrote in an email: “We are happy with the property price and consider it a very good result. We were fortunate enough to sell a great location during the peak of interest in light industrial real estate. ” The big tract is located on the central highway of St. Petersburg, next to the interstate highway.
Gallaty added that a smaller portion of the proceeds will go towards contributions to the pension plan. Another financial implication, as Gallati said, is that “it will give us more flexibility to reinvest in our business the profits we generate while we service the remaining quarter of (urgent) debt. In addition, we are eliminating operating costs for the facility, which helps to improve our operating profit. ”
Time closed the plant in March, outsourcing printing to the Gannett facility in Lakeland, 60 miles from the hotel.
A year earlier, he switched from producing print newspapers seven days a week to two on Wednesdays and Sundays. The Times asked print readers to rely on its digital website or, more likely, a print-style electronic publication with the latest news such as the results of evening sports events.
Both print outsourcing and real estate sales have been widespread industry trends that are accelerating after new financial setbacks like COVID-19 have disrupted local businesses and their advertisements.
I asked but could not get a comment from Alden.
As I and others have written, selling real estate is an integral part of Alden’s strategy of realizing the value of what he buys, not only in his newspaper funds, but also in other companies he has acquired, such as Payless Shoes and Fred’s Pharmacy.
By design, a hedge fund has advantages in scale and expertise in commercial real estate over newspapers or local commercial buyers.
Elsewhere, the newspaper’s former headquarters has sometimes given way to exotic reuse plans, such as the Bay Shore hotel and casino vacated by the Miami Herald, or the multi-deck training field complex at The Times-Picayune’s former New Orleans home.