Transcontinental buys CanWest’s Atlantic and Saskatchewan ‘community’ papers

Transcontinental Group has announced that it will acquire all of CanWest GlobalÔÇÖs community newspapers and related assets in Atlantic Canada and Saskatchewan for $255 million.

The deal includes what Transcontinental and CanWest are calling community dailies, weeklies, monthlies, shoppers and insert publications. The deal also includes commercial printing operations Ad Venture in Saskatoon and Williams & Crue in Summerside, Prince Edward Island.

CanWest estimated that combined, the newspapers in the deal employ close to 900 people and generate annual revenues of almost $100 million. The transaction is subject to the approval is expected to close in mid-August.

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Transcontinental defines a community newspaper as ÔÇ£small local dailies or newspapers published less than five times a week that primarily cover local news.ÔÇØ

The deal includes 12 community newspapers, 10 of which are dailies, and 32 related publications. Transcontinental now owns 79 community newspapers, 10 of which are dailies, in eight provinces, as well as 83 related publications.

The deal makes Transcontinental a player in Eastern Canada and gives the company a stronger presence in Western Canada.

ÔÇ£This acquisition gives concrete form to our strategy of significantly increasing our involvement in community newspaper publishing across Canada,ÔÇØ said Andr├® Pr├®fontaine, President of Transcontinental Media, Transcontinental GroupÔÇÖs publishing and distribution subsidiary, at a press conference announcing the deal. ÔÇ£Combined with the 62 papers we publish already, mainly in Quebec, the eight titles in the Atlantic provinces will make us the leading community newspaper publisher and flyer distributor in Eastern Canada. Similarly, adding the Saskatchewan newspapers to the ones we now publish in Manitoba will increase our presence in the Prairies.

When asked about TranscontinentalÔÇÖs editorial policy Pr├®fontaine laughed and said that Transcontinental has no central editorial policy and has no plans to create one. CanWest has recently come under fire for its national editorial strategy.

ÔÇ£We have identified the community press as an area of development for us across the country,ÔÇØ said Pr├®fontaine.