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New York Times agrees to sell Press Democrat to Florida firm

The New York Times Co. announced an agreement Tuesday to sell its Regional Media Group of 16 newspapers, including The Press Democrat, for $143 million in cash to Halifax Media Holdings LLC.

The transaction is expected to close within a few weeks and includes the North Bay Business Journal in Santa Rosa, Petaluma Argus-Courier and 13 newspapers and affiliated websites in the southeast.

Michael Redding, chief executive officer of Halifax Media, said in a statement that the purchase "reflects Halifax Media's belief that a good newspaper is an essential part of any vibrant community."

"The strong local news coverage these papers provide represents not only an important community service, but, in our eyes, a good investment," Redding said. He did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

Halifax Media currently owns one paper, the Daytona Beach (Florida) News-Journal, which it acquired in 2010 for $20million in a court-ordered sale related to a lawsuit judgment.

The company's investment group includes Stephens Capital Partners LLC, Jaarsss Media and Redding Investments.

Stephens Capital Partners, a Little Rock, Ark.-based private equity firm, owns Stephens Media Group, a Las Vegas-based company that owns 11 daily and 64 weekly newspapers in nine states, primarily in Nevada and Arkansas. Its flagship is the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

News of the impending sale leaked out last week, forcing the Times Co. to acknowledge it was in "advanced discussions" with Halifax.

Press Democrat Publisher Bruce Kyse last week sought to assure advertisers and employees that the new owners were experienced newspaper owners who value community journalism.

He had no additional comment Tuesday, calling the announcement "part of the separation process." The three Sonoma County papers employ 330 people.

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