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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 5, 2010

Star Bulletin sale draws interest from Texas investor

BY Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

A private equity investor from Texas was among those submitting proposals to purchase the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Today is the deadline to submit nonbinding bids to buy the state's No. 2 newspaper, which is being sold by owner Oahu Publications Inc. to make way for the company's purchase of the larger Honolulu Advertiser.

Brian Ferguson of Austin, Texas, submitted a plan to buy the Star-Bulletin and its sister publication MidWeek, which is state's largest weekly newspaper, said sources familiar with the sales process.

Ferguson is counsel for Anthem Holdings LLC, which owns about 6 percent of A. H. Belo Co. Belo owns The Dallas Morning News, The Providence Journal and The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif.

In addition to Ferguson, state Sen. Sam Slom, president of Smart Business Hawaii, and local Internet publisher Malia Zimmerman submitted a joint bid for the Star-Bulletin, its Website, the newspaper's circulation list and its intellectual property.

John Walker, Chief Financial Officer for Oahu Publications, wouldn't say how many bids were received by today's deadline.

In an email today, Walker noted that any bids would have to be measured by minimum standards set by the U.S. Justice Department and the state Attorney General's office, which are monitoring the sales process.

The sales process calls for Oahu Publications, the Attorney General's office and the Justice Department to evaluate the offers and select qualified bidders.

Qualified bidders, in turn, would be given access to additional information about the newspaper's operations and will have between April 12 and April 19 to amend their bids.

David Black, Oahu Publication's owner, announced in February that he was acquiring The Advertiser, its Web site, its nondaily publications and its $82 million printing plant in Kapolei.

To satisfy the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division, Black agreed to offer to sell the Star-Bulletin. If no taker is found, Black said he would consolidate the two dailies.

The consolidation will likely result in the loss of at least 150 jobs at the Star-Bulletin. The number of jobs that may be lost at the Advertiser has not been disclosed but analysts said the Advertiser's job losses could exceed those at the Star-Bulletin.

Black is not offering MidWeek for sale and has said in the past that he doesn't expect to sell the Star-Bulletin due to the newspaper's losses, which averaged about $13.3 million a year.

Reach Rick Daysog at 525-8064 or rdaysog@honoluluadvertiser.com