ECM Publishers Inc. has acquired the Sun Newspaper Group from American Community Newspapers II, combining two large Minnesota newspaper groups.
Signing the agreement for ECM, Friday, Dec. 30, were Publisher and Chief Executive Officer Julian Andersen, President and Chief Operating Officer Marge Winkelman, and Chief Financial Officer Rod Garbe. ECM is based in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. American Community Newspapers II is based in Dallas, Texas.
The newly acquired newspaper group will be called ECM-Sun Group LLC.
The combined company will now include 500 associates and 55 publications, reaching 700,000 homes weekly.
“The merger of the Sun Group into ECM Publishers continues the growth of ECM, combining two strong, well-managed Minnesota media organizations,” Andersen said. “This combination creates opportunity and capability to enhance services provided to both readers and advertisers, to be active partners in an extended group of Minnesota communities, and to provide many associates the chance to step up to bigger responsibilities.”
“We are excited about this new opportunity to expand our footprint in the Minneapolis- St. Paul market as ECM-Sun Group, LLC,” Winkelman said.
“ECM Publishers, Inc., is continuously transforming the way we operate and continues to improve our ability to meet the challenges of the changing newspaper industry. By combining our award- winning publications, strong community websites, and adding digital and social media to the mix, we will be able to communicate to our readers and deliver advertisers’ messages in a timely and effective manner.”
“I am very excited about the future of our new company and the opportunities to grow and expand the business,” said Jeffrey Coolman, General Manager of the ECM-Sun Group. “Combining the strengths of both companies will create one of the best community newspaper groups in the country. It is the people who strengthen our ability to succeed.”
Both ECM and the Sun Group are comprised of newspapers, shoppers, and websites. ECM publishes 15 newspapers and six shoppers with total weekly circulation of 155,000 and 191,000, respectively. The Sun Group publishes 32 newspapers and two shoppers with total weekly circulation of 357,000 and 38,000, respectively. ECM websites attract 1 million page views a month, and Sun Group websites attract 461,000 page views per month.
ECM was created in 1976 by Elmer L. Andersen, who started this newspaper company after a successful career as businessman, state legislator, and Governor. The company began when Andersen bought competing weekly newspapers in Princeton and combined them into the Princeton Union-Eagle. Subsequently, ECM added a commercial web printing plant and acquired an independent delivery company that now operates as a division of ECM. In a sequence of transactions over the past 30 years, ECM acquired additional newspapers.
Andersen, son of the late former governor, said ECM believes many Minnesotans agree with investor Warren Buffet who said recently, after acquiring his hometown newspaper – – the Omaha World Herald: “There are still a lot of things newspapers can do better than any other media. I’m not comfortable without an honest-to-God newspaper in my hand.”
Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a newspaper merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, NM represented American Community Newspapers in the transaction.