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Dallas Paper, Sold in 1986, Will Change Hands Again

June 08, 1988|Associated Press

DALLAS — William Dean Singleton, chairman of the board of the Dallas Times Herald, will sell the newspaper to a longtime associate and stockholder, officials said Tuesday.

The paper will be sold by Singleton's MediaNews Holdings Inc. to DTH Media Inc., a new corporation controlled by MediaNews stockholder John Buzzetta. It is the second time in a year and a half that the Times Herald has been sold.

Buzzetta, 38, has been associated with Singleton, 37, since 1977. Buzzetta is president and majority stockholder in the Scrantonian Tribune of Scranton, Pa.

Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed. Earlier reports said Singleton was negotiating to sell the paper for $140 million.

Singleton issued a statement saying: "The proposal was attractive enough financially that it had to be considered seriously."

Buzzetta said: "A substantial amount of cash and stock was involved in the transaction."

He said DTH Media Inc. will have a controlling interest, while MediaNews will retain a financial interest in the newspaper and will remain a stockholder.

"The Dallas Times Herald is currently showing a healthy annual operating profit," Buzzetta said in a prepared release.

"We're buying a winner and we intend to operate the Dallas Times Herald in the proud tradition that has kept it successful for more than 100 years," he said.

Buzzetta said no layoffs are planned in the Times Herald newsroom.

Singleton and a partner, Richard B. Scudder, acquired the Times Herald, the second-largest paper in Dallas, in 1986 for $110 million from Times Mirror Co. of Los Angeles. As part of the deal, they received $7 million that the newspaper had in the bank, as well as a $20-million discount for paying early, to bring their total cost to $83 million.

Buzzetta has been associated with Singleton since 1977 when Singleton acquired the Hudson Dispatch in Union City, N.J. Buzzetta was working at the paper and later followed Singleton and urged him to acquire the Times Herald.

Rumors have been circulating for weeks that the Times Herald, whose performance has been marginal in the face of a weak state economy and tough competition from the larger newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, would be sold.

Singleton's companies carry substantial indebtedness on the Houston Post, the Gloucester County Times in Woodbury, N.J., and Today's Sunbeam in Salem, N.J., which he owns through MediaNews Holdings, a holding company under Media News Group, the New York Times reported.

Media News Group includes Garden State Newspapers, which owns 16 medium-sized dailies.

Singleton was in Denver on Tuesday in meetings at the Denver Post.

In his statement, Singleton said proceeds from the transaction will go toward retiring debt and for new acquisitions.

Two weeks ago, the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times Herald agreed to drop lawsuits filed against each other concerning paid circulation figures. Latest figures released through the Audit Bureau of Circulations for the six months ended Sept. 30, 1986, showed the Times Herald's daily circulation was 246,370 and the Morning News' was 390,987. On Sunday, the Times Herald's reported paid circulation was 338,963, and the Morning News reported 531,417.

The next ABC report, for the period ending March 31, 1988, is expected in late summer.

Newspaper industry analysts said resolving the circulation dispute was integral to a sale of the Times Herald.

"I don't think you'd buy a newspaper without having circulation figures resolved," said John Reidy of Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. in New York. "This way you don't have two guys suing each other and confusing the advertisers."

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