FTI Capital Advisors, LLC (“FTICA”), the wholly-owned investment banking subsidiary of FTI Consulting, Inc., the global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance their enterprise value, has completed the sale of Freedom Communications, Inc.’s operating businesses and real estate assets to Digital First Media Inc., following a bankruptcy auction earlier this month.
Digital First Media’s $51.8 million bid (digitalfirstmedia.com) was approved by the United States Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, CA, after the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against the highest bidder, Tribune Publishing. The final sale to Digital First Media closed on March 31, 2016 for $49.8 million. Freedom Communications had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on November 1, 2015. FTI Capital Advisors was retained to conduct a formal sale process pursuant to Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code.
Freedom Communications’ media assets consist of multiple print publications including the Orange County Register and The Press-Enterprise, 23 weekly newspapers, three magazine and specialty publications, as well as interactive media businesses. The company also owns 14.3 acres of real estate in Santa Ana, which is partially improved with a commercial printing facility as well as 6.5 acres in Riverside, CA, improved with an additional printing facility. The company is headquartered in Santa Ana, CA. Digital First Media publishes the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram and other Southern California papers. Digital First Media, a business name of MediaNews Group, offers news reporting and third party advertising and directory opportunities through its more than 800 multi-platform products which include web, mobile, tablet and print.
According to Senior Managing Director and Leader of FTI Capital Advisors’ Real Estate Capital Markets team Michael VanderLey,“There was significant interest in both Freedom’s business and real estate assets. Bids were received from strategic acquirers such as Digital First Media and other media companies, as well as real estate investors and developers. Bidding at the auction was spirited, and the sale process resulted in an outcome that maximized value for the estate. Sale proceeds will help repay creditors including lenders, pension obligors and other claimants.”
Shane Campbell, Managing Director of FTI Capital Advisors, adds, “The bankruptcy process facilitated another example of consolidation that has become the trend in the newspaper industry in the face of the evolving media landscape. Given the prolonged distressed nature of Freedom Communications, this is a positive outcome to the Orange County Register and The Press Enterprise and to news readers in the Southern California region.”
About FTI Capital Advisors and its Real Estate Capital Markets Practice
FTI Capital Advisors serves its clients by advising on debt and equity private placements, providing sell-side and buy-side acquisition advisory services, and delivering fairness opinions and valuation advice. The investment bank advises both healthy and distressed public and privately-held companies, as well as organizations in “special situations”, with a particular focus on industries including publishing, telecommunications, energy, clean-tech, healthcare, retail, real estate, consumer food/restaurants and basic services and manufacturing. FTI Capital Advisors, LLC is a registered broker dealer with U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission and member of FINRA and SIPC.
The Real Estate Capital Markets team helps public and private sponsors, operators, investors and operating businesses strategically dependent on real estate with debt and equity financings, asset and portfolio-level transactions, business combinations including joint ventures and M&A and on strategic issues affecting enterprise value.
About FTI Consulting
FTI Consulting, Inc. (fticonsulting.com) is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 4,600 employees located in 28 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The Company generated $1.78 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2015.