Saturday, January 05, 2008

Landmark chairman says decision to sell was his

Landmark Communications Chairman Frank Batten Jr., right, said it was his decision to seek buyers for the company's assets, including Landmark Community Newspapers, a major rural publisher, Philip Walzer of the company's Norfolk Virginian-Pilot reports.

Batten said his idea was approved by other family members, including his father, Frank Batten Sr., who built the company into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. "Although Batten, who will turn 81 next month, has suffered from a number of ailments in recent years, his son described him as healthy and fully recovered from a broken hip," Walzer writes. Batten Jr. said he would avoid selling the company to “inappropriate buyers,” but did not elaborate.

Walzer tells more about the company and the prospective sale: "The several hundred shareholders include family members, some longtime employees and executives, and former Landmark workers, with about 15 individuals or personal trusts having 1 percent or more outstanding stock. The announcement, coming during a depressed period for the newspaper industry, confounded some media researchers. But John Morton, a veteran newspaper analyst and president of Morton Research Inc. in Silver Spring, Md., said the Battens might have chosen to act before profit margins erode further." Others agreed.

Here is more on the company's community-newspaper subsidiary.

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