For the second time this year, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and its sister publications in Nevada are under new ownership.
The publications were acquired by News + Media Capital Group LLC, a newly formed Delaware-domiciled company backed by "undisclosed financial backers with expertise in the media industry," Michael Schroeder, who was identified as the manager of News + Media, said Thursday at an employee meeting.
New Media Investment Group acquired the Review-Journal's parent company, Stephens Media LLC, for $102.5 million in cash in March. GateHouse Media LLC, a subsidiary of New Media, will continue to operate the Review-Journal and associated publications under a management agreement.
Schroeder said the investment group had been looking to buy the Review-Journal "for six to eight months."
"I think Las Vegas is a great market that has recovered tremendously," he said. "There is a lot of opportunity here."
Schroeder is president, publisher and chief executive of Central Connecticut Publishing, which owns four community newspapers in that state. He was a news editor and manager of editorial technology at Newsday, a daily paper on Long Island, N.Y., from 1983 to 1992. He also worked for the now-closed Los Angeles Herald Examiner and the Orange County Register.
The Review-Journal is Nevada's largest media outlet with a Sunday circulation of 184,000 and an average of 10.5 million monthly Web page views. The transaction also includes five weekly newspapers: Boulder City Review; Pahrump Valley Times; Tonopah Times Bonanza; Las Vegas Business Press; Luxury Las Vegas Magazine; Best of Las Vegas; and the lasvegas.com website.
GateHouse CEO Kirk Davis said no changes are planned in the current operations of the newspaper. Davis said New Media Investment was not looking to sell the Review-Journal and its Nevada holdings, but the deal was in the best interest of the company's shareholders.
"This is a dynamic period in the newspaper industry and our company has been very aggressive toward acquisitions," Davis said. "(Selling the Review-Journal) was not part of our plan, but this was a good opportunity for our shareholders."
New Media acquired the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch after the Stephens Media acquisition. The company has more than 125 daily newspapers — about 9 percent of the nation's 1,380 dailies — and more than 500 community and niche publications in more than 415 markets nationwide.
Davis said the Review-Journal and other Nevada newspapers are the first outlets GateHouse will manage for a company other than New Media Investment.
"We look at this as a possible new business model," said Davis, who told Review-Journal employees he hoped the management agreement would be long-term.
The announcement was made late Thursday after the transaction closed. A sale price was not disclosed. New Media Investment, which is traded publicly on the New York Stock Exchange, was expected to issue a press release this morning about the transaction and disclose the sale price along with other transactions.
Review-Journal publisher Jason Taylor said the sale does not affect the joint operating agreement between the Review-Journal and the Las Vegas Sun. Through the arrangement, the Sun is inserted daily in the Review-Journal.
Nor will the sale change any of the newspaper's strategic plans for 2016, which include creating a five-member investigative team, Taylor said.
"This town, this state, needs us to double down on content," Taylor said. "They need us to dig deeper. They need us to fight for them. They need us to find what's wrong and expose it to make this a better place to live and raise a family. Everyone believes in it, and they believe in spending the money to make it happen."
Taylor, who will continue in his position as an employee of GateHouse, said the newspaper will move forward on several growth initiatives already in place.
"The change in ownership structure allows for continued stability and investment," Taylor said in a letter to Review-Journal employees. "Our commitment to local journalism and providing high-performing marketing solutions to Nevada businesses remains our mission."
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter. Contact Jennifer Robison at email@example.com or 702-380-4512. Find her on Twitter: @_JRobison