Los Angeles Times owner Tribune Publishing has expanded its reach in Southern California with an $85 million purchase of San Diego’s flagship newspaper.
The deal for the U-T San Diego, nine community weeklies and related websites will see Austin Beutner, the Times publisher and chief executive, assume the same role with the new purchase.
“The Union-Tribune will retain editorial independence, providing an authentic voice that reflects the diversity of the state and the distinct values of our communities,” Beutner said in a statement. “I also know the Los Angeles Times will benefit with a closer connection to its older sibling down south.”
Tribune’s purchase is the latest of several recent transactions for the 146-year-old San Diego daily. Longtime owner Copley Newspapers of La Jolla sold the paper to Beverly Hills billionaire Tom Gores’ private equity firm Platinum Equity in 2009; Platinum sold the paper to San Diego real estate developer Doug Manchester for a reported $110 million in 2011.
Manchester had reportedly been offering the paper for sale since last summer.
Chicago-based buyer Tribune Publishing is paying $73 million in cash plus $12 million in Tribune Publishing common stock and assuming pension obligations, according to a company statement announcing the deal.
U-T San Diego’s average weekday circulation is around 190,000, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. Along with the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, other dailies in Tribune’s stable include the Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel and the Hartford Courant.
Other recent metro newspaper sales include Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’s $250 million purchase of the Washington Post in 2013 and Red Sox owner John Henry’s $70 million acquisition of the Boston Globe that same year.
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