ECM Publishers, a media company based in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, has signed a Letter of Intent to acquire the Minnesota Sun Newspapers from American Community Newspapers II located in Dallas, Texas. While ACN has accepted the Letter of Intent, purchase agreement negotiations are ongoing.
“This potential combination promises vital hometown journalism for scores of suburban communities,” said Julian Andersen, CEO and Chairman of ECM. “Both of these newspaper groups are staffed and led by talented and effective associates, who will bring vim and vigor to the opportunities and responsibilities of a larger media enterprise.”
“ECM is always looking for ways to grow as an information company,” said Marge Winkelman, president and chief operating officer. “ECM has grown over 35 years from a weekly newspaper in Princeton, Minn., to a company with 21 publications delivered to more than 300,000 Minnesota homes.” “Opportunities of this magnitude rarely happen and ECM is looking forward to working with all the associates at the Sun Newspaper Group and to continue to provide quality newspapers and an online presence to all the communities that we serve”, Winkelman emphasized that no final agreement has been reached with ACN, but hopes a signed agreement will happen before the end of this year.
Jeffrey Coolman, vice president and group publisher for Minnesota Sun Newspapers states “The greatest resource we have are the people who work for us, the merger will bring our talented staff from both companies together to create one of the strongest community newspaper groups in the region. The future will bring us great opportunities to serve our readers and advertisers, grow our market share, and develop new print and digital products. Both companies have a very strong commitment to community journalism and combined will add tremendous synergy to the marketplace.”
Both ECM and the Sun Group are composed 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 1,000,000 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 in Princeton 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.
Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a newspaper merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, NM represented American Community Newspapers in the transaction.