You might say this company really believes in freedom of the press. Freedom Communications is a leading newspaper publisher with more than 40 newspapers and magazines for cities and communities in California. Its portfolio includes The Orange County Register, which boasts a circulation of about 235,000. The company also publishes about 30 weekly community papers and specialty publications. Its Freedom Interactive division creates websites and other new media content for its properties. Freedom Communications, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2010, was founded by R. C. Hoiles. It is controlled by 2100 Trust, an investment group dedicated to the future of journalism and newspapers.
The company's successful reorganization cut its debt load by $450 million and provided unsecured creditors with more than $30 million. The deal also wiped out the 55% stake held by the Hoiles family, which had controlled Freedom Communications for more than 75 years. (Private equity firms The Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners owned the remaining interest.) In mid-2012 2100 Trust stepped in to buy and try to stabilize Freedom Communications. The new owners continued the sell off and ultimately consolidated the company to just its California operations.
Freedom Communications' plan to return to financial stability rests on selling non-core assets.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2012 Freedom Communications sold The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colorado to Clarity Media Group; all of its Florida and North Carolina properties to Halifax Media Group; all of its Texas properties to AIM Media Texas; The Tribune in Seymour, Indiana to News Enterprises; the Yuma (AZ) Sun and Porterville (CA) Recorder to Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers; and all of its broadcasting properties to Sinclair Broadcast Group.
At the same time, it purchased Newport Beach, California-based Churm Media, which netted it a host of Orange County publications on family, food, and leisure activities, along with marketing and events firm Ripe Orange.