MediaNews subsidiary buys Lehman Communications

The publisher of the Boulder Camera has acquired the company that publishes the Longmont Times-Call, the Loveland Reporter-Herald and the Canon City Daily Record.

Prairie Mountain Publishing Co., a subsidiary of MediaNews Group Inc., acquired Lehman Communications Corp. for an undisclosed sum, MediaNews announced Friday. The deal was expected to close later this month.

Times-Call Editor Dean Lehman will keep his role and add the title of publisher, while his father, Ed Lehman, will become publisher emeritus, MediaNews Group Chairman and CEO Dean Singleton said.

No immediate changes are planned in staffing or otherwise, he said. The acquisition effectively will nearly double Prairie Mountain Publishing’s annual revenue, Singleton said. He didn’t disclose exact figures.

“It’s a very strategic acquisition for our company, because of where it’s located,” Singleton said. “Colorado is our headquarters. We’re always happy to add newspapers anywhere, but especially so in Colorado.”

The combined daily circulation for the three Lehman dailies is about 42,000, MediaNews said.

Denver-based MediaNews owns The Denver Post, the San Jose Mercury News and more than 50 other newspapers.

Boulder-based Prairie Mountain Publishing publishes the Camera, The Colorado Daily, (Sterling) Journal-Advocate and The Fort Morgan Times, plus nine weeklies, all in Colorado.

Lehman Communications, established in 1957, also publishes four weeklies including the Colorado Hometown Weekly along with the daily newspapers in Longmont, Loveland and Canon City. It opened a roughly 60,000-square-foot production facility in May 2009.

Ed Lehman said in a written statement that his family has experienced a “lively and exciting” 54 years in local newspaper publishing. “Now it is time for our company to join a larger Colorado-based newspaper publishing firm,” he said.

This week MediaNews announced it was seeking a new CEO to replace Singleton so he could focus on exploring possible combinations with other publishers, but he would remain chairman.

Singleton, who also is chairman of The Associated Press, declined to comment on a Wall Street Journal report that MediaNews also is exploring a merger with Freedom Communications Inc., publisher of The Gazette in Colorado Springs and The Orange County Register in California.

The investment firm Alden Global Capital is part of a group of lenders with ownership stakes in both MediaNews and Freedom.