UPDATE 1-Cox Enterprises to sell some newspapers, Valpak

Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:32pm EDT

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NEW YORK Aug 13 (Reuters) - Cox Enterprises Inc said it plans to sell some of its newspapers, including the Austin American-Statesman in Texas, as it seeks to pay down debt.

Cox said on Wednesday that it also plans to sell Valpak, its direct mail advertising unit, as well as papers in Colorado, North Carolina and Texas. It is selling 10 dailies and 19 weeklies in all, a company spokesman said.

The company said it plans to keep its biggest paper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as well as The Palm Beach Post in Florida and the Dayton Daily News in Ohio.

Cox hired Citigroup (C.N) to help sell the newspapers and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) to help in the sale of Valpak.

The spokesman declined to say how much money Cox wants, and said the company hoped to close the transactions in the first quarter of 2009.

"This decision was made as part of an ongoing strategic review of our portfolio and enables us to maintain our strong and stable financial performance by further paying down debt," said Jim Kennedy, chief executive officer of Cox Enterprises.

Buyers for U.S. newspapers have become increasingly hard to find as few want to pay top dollar for properties whose financial prospects are dimming.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp NWSa.N recently pulled its Ottaway U.S. newspapers off the market after failing to find a buyer at the right price. The Ottaway papers are units of Dow Jones, which News Corp owns. (Reporting by Robert MacMillan; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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