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US: Bankruptcy judge approves Digital First purchase of Freedom Communications

 |  March 21, 2016

A bankruptcy judge approved Digital First Media’s $50 million-plus purchase of Freedom Communications, the publisher of the Orange County Register and the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Judge Mark S. Wallace approved the sale at a hearing Monday at the US Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, Calif. Freedom pursued the sale with Digital First, originally the backup bidder at last week’s auction, after the Justice Department moved to block a sale to Los Angeles Times owner Tribune Publishing.

“I believe it was a very difficult birth, but the baby is fine,” William Lobel, lawyer for Freedom Communications, said of the drama surrounding the sale.

Digital First will pay $51.8 million in cash, which, after adjustments, lawyers say is worth about $52.3 million to Freedom’s creditors. Tribune had offered $56 million in cash for Freedom. Neither offer includes Freedom’s pension liabilities.

Last week, after a contentious auction process, Freedom ended the auction and declared Tribune’s offer the highest and best for its assets. The Justice Department quickly filed a lawsuit with the US District Court in Los Angeles saying the sale to Tribune posed antitrust problems and had the potential to harm subscribers and advertisers in the Orange County area.

Full content: The Wall Street Journal

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