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Mankato paper to be sold to Alabama firm

Associated Press

CAMPBELL HALL, N.Y. -- Ottaway Newspapers has agreed to sell four dailies -- including The Free Press of Mankato, Minn. -- to Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. of Birmingham, Ala., for $182 million.

The other newspapers are The Globe in Joplin, Mo., The Herald in Sharon, Pa., and The Daily Independent in Ashland, Ky. The sale, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close by March 29, Ottaway said Thursday.

For the full year 2001, the four newspapers had combined revenues of $47 million and operating income of $12 million. They had combined circulation of 96,200 in January.

"After a review of all Ottaway newspaper locations, we have decided to focus our future growth outside of these markets and to aggressively pursue newspaper acquisitions in other regions of the country," said James H. Ottaway Jr., board chairman.

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Ottaway, a Dow Jones subsidiary, will continue to publish 15 daily and over 30 weekly newspapers in 10 states, with combined 2001 revenue of $301 million and daily circulation of about 444,000.

Dow Jones estimated, using available capital loss carryforwards to offset the cash sales, an after-tax gain of about $118 million, or $1.39 per diluted share, and after-tax proceeds of $165 million.

Community Newspaper Holdings, formed in 1997, currently owns 105 daily newspapers and 77 non-daily newspapers in 21 states with daily circulation of more than 1.1 million.

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