Monroe News sold to New York publishing group

Brian J. O'Connor
Detroit News Finance Editor

The Monroe News and its parent company, Monroe Publishing Co., have been sold to a New York-based newspaper and digital publishing company.

In a released dated Thursday, New Media Investment Group Inc. announced it had paid $5.2 million for the News, an afternoon daily with morning weekend editions. It has a daily circulation of 14,000 and 21,000 on Sunday and traces its history back 190 years.

“The publications are located near our current cluster in Michigan which makes it the ideal tuck-in acquisition to integrate into our current operations,” Michael Reed, president and chief executive officer of New Media, said in a statement.

New Media was formed after Gatehouse Media filed for bankruptcy reorganization in September 2013, and handed control to Fortress Investment Group LLC, a New York firm that handles $67.5 billion in assets.

It spun off New Media last year. Gatehouse newspaper holdings in Michigan include the Hillsdale Daily News, Sault Ste. Marie Evening News, Holland Sentinel and 19 others.

New Media operates 87 daily newspapers, 243 weekly newspapers and several hundred free weeklies and shoppers. The company also runs a digital marketing service, Propel Marketing.

In June, New Media purchased the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio, and has announced buyouts and a two-year, $10 million cost-cutting program.

Both New Media and Fortress Investment Group are publicly traded. New Media trades on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares closed down 10 cents Wednesday at $15.50, with a 52-week range of $15.41 to $15.91 and are held by several mutual funds and other institutional investors.

Fortress Investment Group shares closed slightly up Wednesday, at $5.67 and have traded between $4.16 and $8.65 during the past 52 weeks.

The paper’s website lists the publisher as Lonnie Peppler-Moyer, and Deborah Saul as the editor. Calls to both went unanswered Wednesday evening.