The Journal Register Co. said Thursday it has been acquired by the Alden Global Capital hedge fund, a deal made less than two years after the newspaper and digital media publisher emerged from bankruptcy protection and implemented an expansive digital presence.
Chief Executive John Paton called the move a vote of confidence by Alden in the company's "Digital First Strategy" and indicative of the company's turnaround. Alden, a distressed debt specialist, has been acquiring stakes in newspapers and was one of JRC's investors.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Journal Register said all its lenders were paid in full. Before it filed for bankruptcy, Journal Register became a private company controlled by its lenders. In its filing, the company listed $596 million in assets and $692 million in debt. It emerged from Chapter 11 in the summer of 2009 with $225 million in financing and a new credit agreement.
"Alden has been an investor in our company for some time and they have had a courtside seat to the Journal Register Company's radical makeover following our Digital First strategy," Paton wrote on his blog "Digital First." "They know what we do, they like what we do, and today they are putting their money behind our efforts."
Journal Register, based in Yardley, Pa., operates more than 350 multi-platform products that reach a monthly audience of nearly 20 million each month. The company has 18 newspapers in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Connecticut, Ohio and New York, along with non-daily print publications and websites.
Paton said no job cuts were planned for the company's 3,100-person work force.
He called the decision a "ringing endorsement" and said Alden's confidence in the Journal Register's business model positioned it to continue its digital strategy. That strategy is centered on developing cost-effective ways to create, distribute and make money from multiple platforms online in creating content and courting advertisers, too.
"The customers have spoken. More Americans want their news via the web than from print," he told The Associated Press. "More companies and advertisers who want to reach those Americans are spending more money on advertising on the web than in print."
That has driven Journal Register's expansion online and into the digital marketplace, he added, letting it focus on content, sales and marketing instead of infrastructure.