* Says received inquiries from "several" third parties
* Seeks to reduce debt from the sale
* Peter J. Solomon Co advising Media General on possible
Feb 22 Broadcaster and publisher Media
General Inc said it is exploring a sale of its
loss-making newspaper operations, and that it has received
inquiries from several third parties regarding the potential
purchase of certain of its print assets.
Shares of the company, which receives more than half of its
revenue from the publishing business, rose 5 percent in extended
trading after the announcement.
Media General, which publishes newspapers like The Tampa
Tribune and the Winston-Salem Journal and owns TV station
WFLA-TV, has been battling rising publishing costs and dwindling
The company, which started operations in 1850 as a newspaper
publisher, had a long-term debt of $665.5 million on its books
as of Sept. 25, 2011.
It has posted a loss in seven of the last eight reported
"(The company) will consider asset sales at valuations that
reflect the strength of its properties as a means of reducing
total debt outstanding over time," Media General said in a
Earlier this month, the company said it is working with its
lender group to postpone the maturity of $363 million debt until
Regional newspapers have been struggling recently because of
weak local retail and national advertising, partly reflecting
the economy's broader travails.
The announcement comes almost two months after New York
Times Co said it will sell 16 regional newspapers spread
across the U.S. Southeast and California to Halifax Media
Holdings for $143 million.
Media General did not provide any definitive timetable for
the evaluation process and said there could be no assurance that
any transaction will take place.
Investment banking advisory firm Peter J. Solomon Company is
assisting Media General with the strategic evaluation process.