Freedom Communications Inc., the parent company of the Scottsdale and East Valley Tribune newspapers, will continue to operate as an independent family-controlled business after the board of directors agreed to form a partnership with two private equity firms.
The company announced Tuesday it has signed an agreement with Blackstone Communications Partners and Providence Equity Partners to invest in the company while allowing descendents of founder R.C. Hoiles to maintain control of the business.
The deal follows months of uncertainty about the future of Freedom, which owns 28 daily newspapers, 37 weeklies and eight television stations. Several media giants including Gannett Co., publisher of the Arizona Republic, and Denver-based Media News Group Inc. had expressed interest in buying all or portions of Freedom.
Family members decided to explore a sale after a group of third-generation members led by Tim Hoiles, a grandson of the company's founder, wanted to cash out of their holdings in Freedom stock. The company said the deal reconciles the competing family interests, providing liquidity for those who want cash, while others will maintain majority ownership in the business.
Tim Hoiles supported the transaction, saying “this is a great outcome for all Freedom shareholders.”
Freedom's President and Chief Executive Officer Alan J. Bell said, "It works for everybody. It is that rare solution to a dispute in which everyone wins — including the 7,000 employees of the company coast-to-coast who have followed this widely disputed process."