Torstar Corporation has announced that it will invest $20 million to acquire a 19.35 per cent share of Black Press Ltd.
Black Press, which owns 64 community newspapers concentrated in British Columbia and Alberta, as well as papers in Washington State and Hawaii and 11 printing plants in Western Canada, generates approximately $240 million yearly in revenue.
Torstar President and Chief Executive Officer Rob Prichard said the company was ÔÇÿextremely pleasedÔÇÖ with the investment in Black Press.
“David Black is one of the finest operators of community newspapers in Canada and we look forward to a long and rewarding relationship,ÔÇØ Prichard said in a Torstar press release. ÔÇ£We believe there will be good opportunities to help grow Black Press in the years ahead and thereby add a significant new market to Torstar’s reach. This investment is in a business we know extremely well through our highly successful Metroland community newspaper division and we look forward to maximizing our investment through mutual co-operation.”
In an article in the Sept. 13 edition of the Globe and Mail, Black is quoted as saying the acquisition sets the company up to potentially purchase papers in B.C.
“We’re just preparing our balance sheet for the growth right around the corner,” said David Black, owner of Victoria, B.C.-based Black Press, noting that CanWest and Hollinger have been selling newspaper assets across the country.
“There’s nothing sure but we believe there’s a number of titles that may be free in Western Canada and we want to be in a position to buy,” he said in the Globe and Mail.
Rumour has it that the acquisition also provides Black with an exit strategy if he decides to exit the business at a future date.
David Black began his newspaper career at Torstar, leaving in 1975 to purchase his father’s newspaper in Williams Lake, B.C. “Torstar is a steady, long-term participant in the industry, run by knowledgeable, passionate newspaper people with strong principles. One couldn’t hope for better investors and partners,ÔÇØ he said in the release.
Torstar Corporation owns Metroland Printing, Publishing & Distributing, publishers of 69 community newspapers in Southern Ontario, as well as the daily newspapers the Toronto Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, the Guelph Mercury, and Harlequin Enterprises, a publisher of women’s fiction.