Explaining Southern California's economy

Orange Country Register sale to Boston-area investor closes

OCR-Front

The Orange Country Register's parent company, Freedom Communications, has been officially acquired by 2100 Trust LLC, headed by Massachusetts businessman Aaron Kushner.

The last pieces of Freedom Communications, including the Orange Country Register, have been sold to 2100 Trust LLC, an investment group led by Aaron Kushner, a Boston-area business man who initiated the purchase last month.

I took a stab at figuring out how big a deal this was, but no confirmation of my back-of-the-envelope math is forthcoming, as the deal size wasn't disclosed by Freedom or Kusher's group. The OCR's Mary Ann Mibourn did confirm an aspect of the purchase:

As part of the deal, Freedom Communications will make an additional one-time contribution to the company's retirement plan. The amount of the contribution was not disclosed.

This contribution was reportedly a dealbreaker for U-T San Diego owners Doug Manchester's ambitions to own two papers in Southern California. It could be a significant amount of money, beyond what 2100 Trust paid for the remnants of Freedom. As I wrote last month:

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San Diego Padres could be sold for $800 million by the All-Star break

San Diego Padres v Colorado Rockies

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Starting pitcher Anthony Bass of the San Diego Padres. The team could be nearing a sale for $800 million.

That's what being reported, anyway. CBS Sports says that current owner John Moores has entered an "exclusive negotiating window" to sell the team for about twice its current (depressed) value of $406 million — and a lot more than Moores paid to buy the team in 1994, and to start selling it in 2009.

The sticker price is rumored to be $800 million. If the sale — to a group led by the family of former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley, brewing tycoon Ron Fowler, and other investors including pro golfer and San Diego native Phil Mickelson — goes through, it would make the Padres the third costliest Major League Baseball team acquisition, behind the Chicago Cubs $845 and of course the recent Dodgers sale of more than $2 billion.

It would also mean that the two other potential owners — communications mogul Gary Jabara; and private-equity titan Steve Kaplan of Los Angeles' Oaktree Capital — are out of the running. 

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