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April 03. 2013 7:43PM

Parent company of Portsmouth Herald is considering a sale

NEW YORK - News Corp. is considering the sale of its Dow Jones Local Media unit, a group of community papers that includes the Portsmouth Herald, Seacoastonline.com and the Seacoast Media Group weekly and twice-weekly publications.

"We are letting you know today that Dow Jones is currently engaged in a process that will likely result in the sale of LMG and its assets," wrote Chief Operating Officers Bill Kennedy and Pat Purcell in a memo to Dow Jones Local Media Group employees dated April 2, the Wall Street Journal reported. "While there is no timetable for such a sale or details to share on potential buyers, Dow Jones has retained the investment banking firm of Waller Capital Partners to lead discussions with potential bidders."

Nathaniel Brown, spokesman for News Corp., declined to comment, as did Ed Adler, a representative for New York-based Waller.

Rupert Murdoch, News Corp.'s founder and chief executive officer, is grooming the company's publishing division in preparation for a spinoff this year. News Corp. is splitting the business from its entertainment operations, which will be called Fox Group Inc.

The company agreed to the spinoff last year, bowing to pressure from shareholders who wanted the company to focus on its more valuable television and film businesses.

The new publishing company reported a pro forma net loss of $1.89 billion in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, with sales of $9.14 billion. The loss included $2.6 billion in writedowns, mostly from reductions in the value of newspapers.

The community-paper division was formed after Ottaway Newspapers merged with Dow Jones in 1970. The Ottaway business was founded in 1936 when James H. Ottaway bought the Bulletin in Endicott, N.Y., according to Dow Jones's website.

Its papers now include the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y.; the Pocono Record in Stroudsburg, Pa.; Nantucket Today in Massachusetts; and the Record in Stockton, Calif.

The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corp., previously reported on the sale discussions.

Shares of the company rose 2.3 percent to $31.03 Wednesday in New York.

The stock has climbed 22 percent this year.



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