According to pseudonymous blogger T. Cushing Munjoy, the sale of the Blethen Maine Newspapers - the Portland Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel - is on hold. Munjoy, who until recently offered daily critiques of the Press Herald at his Pressing The Herald blog
and has numerous sources at the paper, sent me an e-mail this afternoon saying that, according to a "cryptic" message from "a PPH insider," bids for the papers had come in too low, and the entire process of selling the Maine operations was being reassessed.
Calls to Blethen and to Local 128 of the Newspaper Guild, the union representing many employees at the Press Herald and Morning Sentinel, were not immediately returned.
As reported earlier, Blethen had narrowed the field of those interested in buying the papers to three,
but had not released the names of the companies likely to bid.
Blethen paid about $230 million for the Maine papers in 1998, according to published reports in the Seattle media. Company officials had earlier admitted they did not expect to sell the Maine properties for anything close to that figure, but Frank Blethen, the president and chief executive officer of the Seattle Times, the parent company of Blethen Maine, told the Press Herald in March that getting half the original figure "would be a reasonable assumption."
Speculation in the media about the value of the papers, which have been suffering from a sharp drop in advertising revenue this year, have ranged from $75 million to as little as $30 million.
- Filed 6/6/08
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org