Gannett Co. (GCI:US), the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, agreed to buy the Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time in Connecticut from Tribune Co. for $73 million to expand its holdings outside of New York.
Printing of the two newspapers, with weekday circulation totaling 37,400, will be combined with the Journal News in Westchester County, New York, to reduce costs, said Tara Connell, a spokeswoman for McLean, Virginia-based Gannett.
Gannett's purchase is part of a strategy to lower costs by forming regional groups to share resources, Connell said. Chicago-based Tribune, which is considering a sale or breakup, sold the Connecticut newspapers, its two smallest, as part of a separate plan to dispose of some assets. Both companies are grappling with a loss of advertisers and readers to the Internet.
``This is consistent with what we have been doing elsewhere in the country,'' Connell said in an interview today. ``We think they're a good business if they're run well and we can do certain efficiencies such as printing.''
The transaction increases asset sales by Tribune, owner of the Los Angeles Times, to more than $500 million, exceeding a goal set last year, the company said in a statement. Tribune, which will own nine newspapers after today's sale is complete, is focusing on larger publications.
Tribune has promised a decision on a sale or restructuring by the end of this month. The company, also the owner of 23 television stations and the Chicago Cubs, has sold TV outlets in Boston, Atlanta and in Albany, New York, along with a printing plant in Los Angeles.
Today's accord doesn't include real estate, said Tribune, also the owner of the Hartford Courant in Connecticut's capital. The company will sell the land in Stamford and Greenwich separately.
Shares of Gannett rose 6 cents to $59.45 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Tribune rose 14 cents to $30.15. Tribune shares rose 1.7 percent last year while Gannett was little changed.
Gannett has formed regional groups in Wisconsin, Ohio, Louisiana, Florida and upstate New York, Connell said.
The Advocate has daily circulation of 25,800, compared with 11,600 for the Greenwich newspaper, Connell said. Their employees, including pressmen and newsroom workers, will be asked to fill out job applications.
The forms will start the paperwork for people to become Gannett employees and to determine if they want to stay in the jobs they are in, Connell said.
``It's not like they're reapplying for the jobs, but they are filling out job applications,'' Connell said.
Connell declined to say how many employees the two newspapers have or whether there will be job cuts.
To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Palazzo in Los Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Emma Moody at emoody@Bloomberg.net.