AIM Media Midwest, LLC announced Tuesday that it has acquired the print and online newspaper publishing assets and the commercial printing assets in Ohio from Civitas Media, LLC, including The Times-Gazette.
Civitas, headquartered in Davidson, North Carolina, is a portfolio company of Philadelphia-based private equity investment firm Versa Capital Management, LLC.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. In conjunction with the transaction, AIM announced that all active Ohio employees working directly for any of the individual newspaper publications will be hired immediately and continue in their respective jobs and positions with the new company. In addition, AIM will be hiring a select group of employees currently employed by Civitas in corporate or centralized functions and located in Ohio following a period of transition.
The transaction includes 17 daily newspapers (16 in Ohio and one in West Virginia), 15 weekly publications and a variety of specialty publications including shoppers and magazines. The largest daily newspaper included in the group is The Lima News.
“Civitas is one of the most respected and admired publishing companies principally serving local community markets in the United States,” said Jeremy L. Halbreich, chairman and CEO of AIM and former chairman and CEO of Sun-Times Media LLC (Chicago), former founder, chairman, president and CEO of American Consolidated Media (Dallas), and former president and general manager of The Dallas Morning News.
“My associate Rick Starks (president and COO of AIM, former CEO of Ohio Community Media LLC, former managing director at Carl Marks Advisory, former executive VP and COO at American Consolidated Media, and former senior VP – Sales & Marketing of The Dallas Morning News) and I have had the recent and wonderful opportunity to become well acquainted with the senior leadership at Civitas and at Versa and we salute their demonstrated commitment and support to these local communities throughout their years of ownership. These publications and the service they provide their respective communities in Ohio and West Virginia represent a great testimony to the hard work, dedication and true community service established and maintained by Civitas over recent years in conjunction with their talented staff of dedicated employees,” Halbreich added.
“We are gratified by Civitas’ and Versa’s confidence in us as publishers of local, community newspapers to build on their recent history and allow us to enhance the focus on community service,” Halbreich added. “We look forward to providing the guidance and direction necessary for these publications and our new employees to engage their local audiences and set the civic agenda and discourse both online and in print for the communities they serve,” Halbreich said.
Lior Yahalomi, Civitas CEO, said, “I am pleased to have AIM, a first rate organization, run by such high-quality and respected media industry leaders as Jeremy Halbreich and Rick Starks, acquire Civitas’ Ohio and West Virginia properties.” He added, “I also want to express my thanks to all of our Civitas Ohio and West Virginia employees for their long-term, loyal and conscientious service. I wish them all the best as they transition to be an integral part of the AIM organization and culture.”
Gary Abernathy, publisher and editor of The Times-Gazette, said, “It’s been an honor to be part of the Civitas Media family and to benefit from its leadership. We’re excited to be joining AIM Media, a company that has demonstrated a strong commitment to quality journalism, strong local community involvement and excellent value for advertisers.”
AIM Media Midwest, LLC is an entity formed by Halbreich and Starks for the purpose of acquiring and growing the print, online and commercial printing operations previously owned by Civitas Media, LLC in Ohio (plus one daily newspaper in West Virginia).
The new company is an affiliate of AIM Media Texas, LLC and AIM Media Indiana, LLC and all entities are managed by AIM Media Management of Dallas, Texas where Halbreich serves as chairman and CEO and Starks serves as president and COO. Both are 40-plus year veterans of the newspaper publishing industry where they have spent their entire careers. In addition, Halbreich is an Ohio native, born in Cleveland.
The company focuses on local content across all forms of media including print, online and video.