Denver Businessman Buys Oklahoma Publishing Co

By Brus, Brian | THE JOURNAL RECORD, September 15, 2011 | Go to article overview

Denver Businessman Buys Oklahoma Publishing Co


Brus, Brian, THE JOURNAL RECORD


The Oklahoma Publishing Co. has been sold in a private transaction expected to close in October, the newspaper company announced Thursday.

Denver petroleum businessman Philip Anschutz will buy OPUBCO and all of its assets, including The Oklahoman newspaper, NewsOK.com, the corporate tower in northwest Oklahoma City, hotels and other real estate interests, company officials said in a story published by the newspaper Thursday. The Gaylord and Dickinson families have controlled OPUBCO for more than 100 years.

The billionaire approached the OPUBCO shareholders board of directors with an offer in June, Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman Christy Everest said in The Oklahoman article. Also in June, the newspaper announced that David Thompson, who had been with the company for more than 35 years, planned to retire from the company as publisher to be succeeded by Christopher P. Reen and that Editor Ed Kelley would leave the company to join The Washington Times.

Financial details of the deal were not revealed Thursday. Everest said the board considered Anschutz's proposal from several perspectives, including that of the company's 254 shareholders, whom she referred to as being patient. Anschutz has been described as a wildcatter by both petroleum and media industry watchers, for his company's investment in underperforming assets.

The newspaper has seen hard times with the rest of the media industry in recent years. In 2008, The Oklahoman announced that it was constricting its daily delivery range across the state due to rising costs for newsprint and distribution. That year the newspaper also announced that it was cutting 150 jobs, followed by about 50 jobs in 2010 and 50 more at the beginning of this year.

Everest said Anschutz Corp. and OPUBCO share similar interests and conservative values. And Anschutz said he intends to carry on the legacy of excellence created by the Gaylord and Dickinson families and that Everest has been asked to remain on The Oklahoman's editorial board.

OPUBCO Chief Operating Officer Gary Pierson will be named president and chief executive officer, he said. And all current employees of OPUBCO Communications Group, which publishes The Oklahoman and operates NewsOK.com, will maintain their responsibilities, including Reen as publisher. The Oklahoman will operate independently of any other newspapers owned by Anschutz Corp., executives said.

OPUBCO is a separate interest from publicly traded Gaylord Entertainment Co., which owns and operates several hotels and the Grand Ole Opry country music variety show. The family established Gaylord Entertainment in 1991 as a subsidiary, but today there is no business relationship between the two companies, Gaylord Entertainment spokesman Brian Abrahamson said. The OPUBCO deal with Anschutz does not involve Gaylord Entertainment.

Efforts to reach OPUBCO executives for comment were routed to Pierson, who could not be reached for comment by deadline.

Everest is the third generation of the Gaylord family to head OPUBCO, which was founded in 1903 by Edward K. Gaylord and a small number of business partners including Ray Dickinson. She succeeded her father, Edward L. Gaylord, as chairwoman and chief executive officer on his death.

Joe Foote, the dean of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Oklahoma and holder of the Edward L. Gaylord Chair, said the sale of any newspaper wouldn't surprise him lately, given the state of the industry. …

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