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News Corp offloads 33 publications in Dow Jones Local Media Group

The sold assets will be managed by GateHouse Media.

News Corporation has sold the 33 publications in its Dow Jones Local Media Group to an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group for an undisclosed amount, marking the first disposal of the struggling media firm since its split in June 2013.

Apart from daily and weekly newspapers, the Dow Jones Local Media Group operates eight daily newspapers and 15 weeklies.

The sale will include daily newspaper titles such as the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, the Cape Cod Times in Hyannis, Massachusetts, the Pocono Record in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and the Daily Tidings in Ashland, Oregon.

Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corporation, said: “We are confident that the papers will prosper under the new owners, but they were not strategically consistent with the emerging portfolio of the new News.”

The sold assets of Dow Jones Local Media Group will be managed by New York-based GateHouse Media that publishes 97 dailies in 20 US states and 198 paid weeklies.

Investment bank Waller Capital Partners advised Dow Jones on the sale.

Christine Frank, managing director of Waller Capital, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying: “There has been a levelling of where newspapers are performing and a rationalisation of buyers’ expectations and sellers’ expectations on value. There really has been a lot of new money coming into the news industry as well as a lot of interests from existing strategic players.”

Earlier in June, News Corporation’s shareholders have given their approval to Rupert Murdoch’s proposal to split the company into two independent, publicly traded firms.

Global media are finding hard to manage their newspaper assets due to tough competition, and are breaking them in to smaller units for disposal.

In April, News Corp said it was considering a sale of the community newspapers group.

In August, the New York Times agreed to sell its Boston Globe newspaper and other New England media assets to John Henry, principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, for $70m.

E-retailer Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos agreed to buy the Washington Post for $250m last month.