The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Deadline looms, but still no word on sale of the Riverside Press-Enterprise

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The Press-Enterprise, an iconic newspaper in Riverside, was expected to join ranks with the Orange County Register on Friday, but that hasn't happened yet.

The Register's parent company, Freedom Communications Holdings Inc., agreed to buy the Press-Enteprise from its corporate owner A.H. Belo for $27.25 million. The deal was expected to close in mid-October, but later the deadline was pushed back to Nov. 15. 

"Freedom and A.H. Belo are finalizing the closing on The Press Enterprise acquisition by Freedom," said Freedom spokesman Eric Morgan in an e-mail to KPCC on Friday evening around 5 p.m. He did not respond to questions on whether the deadline for the sale was pushed back even further or what has caused the latest delay.

A.H. Belo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, A.H. Belo said in documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that there were some changes to the deal to sell the Press-Enterprise . The original deadline was pushed back to Nov. 15 and Freedom Communications paid a non-refundable $1 million deposit, which would go toward the final purchase price.

Under those terms, Freedom would have to purchase the Press-Enterprise on or before Nov. 15, or A.H. Belo could terminate the deal, according to the documents.

On Nov. 5, Freedom spokesman Eric Morgan told KPCC that the company still planned to purchase the Press-Enterprise and said "due diligence in finalizing the transaction by both parties" caused the delay beyond the original target closing date of mid-October.

Media analyst Ken Doctor told KPCC earlier this month that it's possible A.H. Belo may have been spooked by a lawsuit filed by former shareholders of Freedom Communications against the investment group, 2100 Trust, that bought Freedom Communications last year. Doctor said the changes in the sales agreement earlier this month could indicate that A.H. Belo has "concerns about 2100 Trust's ability to get the deal done." 

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