The Press Democrat sold to Halifax Media

Halifax Media Holdings LLC completed a $143 million deal Friday to buy The Press Democrat and 15 other regional newspapers from the New York Times Co.

The acquisition also includes the North Bay Business Journal in Santa Rosa and the Petaluma Argus-Courier. The publications will continue to focus on local news and will be controlled by their local publishers, Halifax Media chief executive officer Michael Redding told reporters in a conference call Friday.

"Commitment to local news is everything," he said.

Founded in 2010, Halifax Media is based in Daytona Beach, Fla. It is backed by Stephens Capital Partners, an investment firm in Little Rock, Ark., controlled by billionaire Warren Stephens; Redding Investments; and JAARSSS Media LLC, of Miramar Beach, Fla., a firm led by Rupert E. Phillips.

The company was created to buy The Daytona Beach News-Journal, where Redding serves as publisher.

"We believe in the future of newspapers," Redding said in a video presentation shown to Press Democrat employees on Friday. "We're in the business of producing quality newspapers and quality products."

Halifax Media approached the New York Times Co. last year to discuss purchasing one of its regional newspapers, the neighboring Gainesville Sun, Redding said. The scope of the deal expanded during negotiations to include the entire Regional Media Group, he said.

"What started off with a single unit turned into a sizable deal," Redding said.

The company's strategy is to invest long-term capital in quality companies positioned in strong markets that are closely connected to the community, he said.

Asked whether he intended to keep all the papers in the group, Redding said, "We are long-term investors ... We don't anticipate anything more than growing."

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