Glacier expands with Hollinger holdings

Glacier Ventures International has bought the majority of HollingerÔÇÖs remaining holdings of Canadian publications for $138.4 million. These are mainly papers in British Columbia but also includes the Sherbrooke (QC) Record, the first paper that was owned by Conrad Black. This has reduced HollingerÔÇÖs holdings to the Chicago Sun-Times and community newspapers in the Chicago area.
In a CBC interview, Glacier CEO John Kennedy outlined his strategy for newspapers, ÔÇ£We like them to be able to be free to run the papers as they see best, we think they understand the communities best at the local level.ÔÇØ
The deal comes on the heels of a December 30, 2005, announcement that Glacier had bought most of HollingerÔÇÖs 70 per cent stake in the Great West Newspaper Group. The deal was worth an estimated $40 million. Great West is the owner of sixteen CCNA members in Alberta.
In the wake of the announcements, there has been speculation about how Glacier will handle its role as one of the largest media publishers in the country, including suggestions that the publicly traded company will become an income trust.
Peter Kvarnstrom, vice president of Glacier Community Newspaper division is pleased with the acquisitions.
ÔÇ£The newly acquired Hollinger papers fit very nicely with our community newspaper division, in extending our reach in Western Canada as well as nationally. It is exciting to meet and be able to work wit a whole new group of dedicated newspaper professionals across Canada.
ÔÇ£The value of these operations is largely in their strong community positioning and with the people that are making it happen at the operations. We will maintain that local community focus that is the strength behind these publications,ÔÇØ said Kvarnstrom
Because of the various legal problems of Conrad Black, the Glacier buy-out has received a lot of press attention. Sam Grippo, a member of the Glacier Board of Directors, and Chairman of Madison Venture Corp., GlacierÔÇÖs largest shareholder, was labeled ÔÇ£CanadaÔÇÖs new, shrewd media baron,ÔÇØ by the Globe and Mail.
Glacier VenturesÔÇÖ first acquisition was a bottled water company in 1998, and quickly diversified and became a major player in print communications.
Daily and weekly newspapers in British Columbia include the Nelson Daily News, West Kootenay Weekender, Cranbrook Daily Townsman, Kimberley Daily Bulletin, East Kootenay Weekly Extra, East Kootenay Weekly Weekender, Trail Times, Fernie Free Press, Grand Forks Gazette, Grand Forks Boundary Bulletin, Creston Valley Advance, Kamloops Daily News, Kamloops The Extra, Merritt News, Merritt News Extra, Prince George Citizen, Prince George This Week, Prince George Extra, Alaska Highway News, North Peace Express, The Northener, Peace River Block News, The Regional Advertiser, The Northern Horizon, The Mirror, Prince Rupert Daily News, and Prince Rupert Daily News Extra. Also included are two Quebec papers, The Sherbrooke Record and Brome County News.
Other assets of Hollinger include 37 online and trade publications.