Freedom agrees to partnership

By MARY ANN MILBOURN
Freedom News Service

IRVINE, Calif. — Freedom Communications Inc., parent of the Clovis News Journal, Portales News-Tribune and Quay County Sun in Tucumcari, announced Tuesday it has signed an agreement with two East Coast investment firms to raise funds to allow shareholders who want out of the family-owned company to cash in their shares.
A statement by Freedom said New York-based Blackstone Communications Partners and Providence Equity Partners in Providence, R.I., “will make a significant investment in the firm and enable continued control by descendents of founder R.C. Hoiles, whose heritage and libertarian editorial philosophy will be preserved.” Financial details were not released. The statement said shareholders would receive specifics shortly, in advance of a shareholders’ meeting.
The announcement culminates more than a year of wrangling within the family after some shareholders, unhappy after several years of financial underperformance, called for a plan that would allow them to cash out of the Irvine, California-based company. An equal number of family members wanted to keep the company, which has been based in Orange County, Calif., for nearly 70 years, in family control.
“The goal from the beginning has always been fairness to everyone’s objectives,” said Alan Bell, Freedom chief executive. “It is that rare solution to a dispute in which everyone wins — including the 7,000 employees of the company coast to coast who have followed every chapter of this widely discussed process.”
Fredom owns 28 dailies and 37 weeklies with a combined circulation of 1.2 million, as well as eight television stations.