Park Communications Sold for $711 Million; Real Estate Developer and Stock Broker Team Up to Buy Newspaper and Broadcast Chain

Article excerpt

PARK COMMUNICATIONS INC., the sprawling family-controlled neewspaper and broadcasting chain, said it reached an agreement to be sold to two investors for $711.4 million.

Neither of the investors, Donald Tomlin and Gary Knapp, have experience managing a media company.

Tomlin was described by a spokesman for the two as a native South Carolinian who is active in real estate development in the South.

Knapp operates a stock brokerage in Lexington, Ky., the spokesman said.

A Park news release said the two have indicated they intend to retain Park's current management and employees.

The total purchase price of about $30.50 per share represents a multiple of about 22 times earnings, a multiple rarely seen since the heyday of newspaper prices in the mid-1980s.

For instance, when the company was put on the auction block last March, newspaper analyst John Morton of Lynch, Jones & Ryan in Washington valued the chain at $400 million to $450 million (E&P, April 9, p. 9)

One factor holding down the price was thought to be the fact the vast majority of Park's properties are in small markets.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that the winning bid was about $75 million more than the next highest offer.

Headquartered in Ithaca, N.Y., Park publishes 106 newspapers in 21 states, among them the Effingham (Ill.) Daily News, Coldwater (Mich.) Daily Reporter and Union Sun and Journal in Rockport, N.Y.

Park also owned 22 radio stations and nine television stations. …