This Lee commands an army of newspapers. Lee Enterprises owns or
has stakes in about 50 daily newspapers and nearly 300 weekly
papers and niche publications. Its papers serve primarily
small and midsized markets in some 20 states. Its portfolio is
anchored by the St. Louis Post Dispatch; it also owns 50%
of Madison Newspapers, publisher of the Wisconsin State
Journal. The eighth-largest newspaper publisher in the
US, Lee serves a daily circulation of more than 1.3 million
readers. It additionally operates several websites in
conjunction with its newspapers, and it has commercial printing
facilities. Lloyd Schermer and his family have nearly 30% voting
control of the firm, which filed for bankruptcy in 2011.
In 2011 Lee reached an agreement with most its lenders to
refinance $769.5 million of its loans. However, the plan required
unanimous approval and 6% of its lenders did not consent; thus, a
couple of months later Lee was forced to file for Chapter 11.
Lee operates in 23 states concentrated mostly in the Midwest
Lee operates in a single operating segment: newspapers. The
company generates revenue through circulation, advertising (print
and digital), and commercial printing services.
Sales and Marketing
In light of the new media landscape, Lee has been focusing on
its digital operations. These efforts include mobile and tablet
apps, digital couponing, banner ads, and social networking
services. Lee's websites and mobile products attracted 21.8 million
unique visitors in December 2011.
About 71% of the company's 2011 revenue came from advertising.
In 2011, advertising revenue decreased $23,326,000, or 4.2%. One
bright spot for the company: digital advertising revenue increased
27% in 2011.
The company's bankruptcy filing came days after its annual
financial results, when it reported a loss of more than $146
million for the fiscal year ended September 2011. In its bankruptcy
documents, Lee listed liabilities of $994.5 million and assets of
$1.15 billion. Under its plan, the company is extending loan
repayments, once due in 2012, to 2015 and 2017 -- with higher
interest rates. Also as part of the reorganization, current
shareholders will be diluted to about 13%, while new shares will be
issued to creditors.
In 2012 Lee agreed to sell the North County Times newspaper and
digital media operations to Manchester Freedom, LLC for $11.95
million. Proceeds of the divestiture will be used to pay down the