Newfoundland Capital and Cameron Publications create Optipress

Creating what will be the single largest newspaper chain in Atlantic Canada, the Newfoundland Capital Corporation (NCC) and Cameron Publications announced that they will sell their publishing and printing businesses to a newly created company, Optipress Inc.

Optipress will raise the funds for the purchase of the businesses by way of an initial public offering of its common shares.

NCC publishing and printing is made up of two separate operating divisions ÔÇô Robinson-Blackmore in Newfoundland and Labrador and Print Atlantic in the Maritimes and Eastern United States. Robinson-Blackmore publishes 15 community newspapers in Atlantic Canada, including the Labrador City Aurora, the Happy Valley Labradorian, the Port Aux Basques Gulf News, the Stephenville Georgian, the Corner Brook Humber Log, the Springdale/Baie Verte Nor’Wester, the Lewisporte Pilot, the Exploits Valley Advertiser, the Clarenville Packet, the Gander Beacon, the St. John’s The Express, the Placentia The Charter, the Marystown Southern Gazette and the Harbour Breton Coaster.

Cameron Publications produces 10 community newspapers in Atlantic Canada, including the Windsor Hants Journal , the Kentville Advertiser, the Berwick Register, the Middleton Mirror-Examiner, the Bridgetown Monitor, the Annapolis Royal Spectator, the Digby Courier, the Yarmouth Vanguard, the Shelburne Coast Guard and the Liverpool Advance.

The two companies have combined annual revenues in excess of $68 million.

Earlier last month NCC told shareholders at its May 2 annual meeting in Halifax that it would cease being a conglomerate, with holdings in printing, publishing through its Robison-Blackmore division, and concentrate on the radio sector across the country.

In the past, the corporation has had holdings in transportation, hotels and a host of other sectors. Under CEO and Chairman Harry Steele, the company has slowly been divesting all but its media properties.

There has been widespread speculation that the newspaper landscape in Atlantic Canada was about to change drastically. Many players have been pursuing community newspapers, including the Irving family.

Derek Hiscock, president of Robinson-Blackmore and former CCNA president ( ), will become the new president and CEO of Optipress.

ÔÇ£I think itÔÇÖs a great sign of faith in the Atlantic print and pub market,ÔÇØ said Sean Murray, president of Advocate Printing, now the second-largest community newspaper publisher in Atlantic Canada. ÔÇ£Derek and his team have always been strong industry supporters and believe in communities. Optipress will follow this example and be successful on a community- by-community basis.ÔÇØ

Atlantic Community Newspapers Association President Paul MacNeill agreed. ÔÇ£I think itÔÇÖs good news ÔÇô Derek as president of Optipress bodes very well for our industry,ÔÇØ he said. ÔÇ£Derek is a great businessman and hopefully he will run the company as a solid, profitable newspaper company. Hopefully this will also bring the Cameron publications into the ACNA fold in a more active way. . We knew the Robinson-Blackmore papers were going to be sold and if you had to pick someone to buy the papers, this is about the best solution you could hope for in 2002.ÔÇØ