Digital First wins Herald with bid of nearly $12M

Digital First Media won the Boston Herald in a five-hour bankruptcy auction with an $11.9 million bid that all but settles who will carry the news organization into the next chapter of the city’s rich media history.

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The Denver-based company fought off two other suitors — GateHouse Media and Revolution Capital — yesterday afternoon in the 18th-floor offices of the Herald’s bankruptcy attorneys, Brown Rudnick.

Digital First, which also goes by the name MediaNews Group, owns the Lowell Sun and the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise, as well as hundreds of publications across the country, including The Denver Post, The Orange County Register in Anaheim and the Mercury News of San Jose.

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The newspaper company’s operations chief, Guy Gilmore, said in a statement the company is “pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of the Boston Herald through the next chapter of its storied history. The Herald is integral to the fabric of the great city of Boston.”

The Herald entered into bankruptcy Dec. 8, when publisher Patrick J. Purcell also announced a deal with GateHouse to bid for the company after months of hunting for buyers.

In a statement, Purcell said he was pleased that GateHouse’s initial $5 million bid was more than doubled at auction.

“I started this process with a promise that I would do everything humanly possible to avoid shuttering the unique and fearless voice of the Boston Herald, whose roots go back 172 years,” Purcell said.

“I appreciate all of the time and effort that went into every aspect of this sale, from start to finish,” Purcell said, “and am particularly grateful to GateHouse, Revolution and MediaNews Group for seeing the greatness in the people who put out the news every day at the Boston Herald.”

After hours of back and forth at the auction, the newspaper’s price doubled from the initial bid. Revolution Capital was the first to drop out of the three, according to Brian Whelan, president of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Boston, who was present for the proceeding.

“It just kept escalating after that,” Whelan said, walking out of the law offices after the auction. “The Herald is still alive.”

Whelan said Digital First agreed to hire 175 of the Herald’s employees, and though the union has had cordial meetings with the company, he’s waiting to hear more about the company’s plan for the Herald and its employees.

“So, the devil is going to be in the details, and I don’t have any at the moment,” Whelan added.

Digital First’s bid is subject to court approval, and a hearing is set for Friday in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware. The sale is set to close by Wednesday, March 28.

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on:2018-02-14 00:45:42

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