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Toll Road Conglomerate Silences Nagging Texas Newspapers by Purchasing Newspaper Group.

Sal Costello Blog | January 28, 2007 

Don't like the bad press from dozens of newspapers?
Just buy them.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports Macquarie Media Group Ltd., a subsidiary of Macquarie Bank and Cintra-Macquarie partner, has swallowed American Consolidated Media (ACM) for nearly $100 million.

The purchase allows one of the largest toll road operators in the world to control some of it's industries most outspoken critics in Texas, dozens of rural independent Texas newspapers.

The deal could help to clear a political path for potential Texas contracts worth Billions.

The purchase comes after the ACM's rural independent newspapers have clearly been the most vocal opposition to the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC).

Countless articles over the past months and years peg the TTC as an eminent domain land grab. ACM's publications had placed serious political pressure on the TTC, therefore future TTC contracts worth an estimated $185 Billion dollars.

Editorial independence
is being bought out.

The newspapers are the main communication tool for many of the rural Texan communities, with many citizens at risk of loosing thier homes and farms through eminent domain. Future TTC contracts are estimated to effect about one-half million acres of land, and 4,000 miles of Texas toll roads.

Founded in 1998, American Consolidated Media is a privately owned media holding company. Based in Dallas, Texas, the company owns and operates about 40 newspapers, primarily in the small-to-medium markets of Texas.

Texas newspapers under the ACM umbrella include: Waxahachie Daily Light, The Hearne Democrat, Calvert Tribune, Alvarado Post, Bonham Journal, Ellis County Chronicle, Ennis Journal, Stephenville Empire Tribune, Midlothian Mirror, and the Franklin Advocate.

Macquarie is currently poised to buy more newspaper groups. From the Sydney Morning Herald report:

“The Macquarie Bank-backed fund, which already has broadcast assets, is "in a number of discussions" with other US newspaper businesses, including some exclusive negotiations, but declined to offer more details.”
This is Macquarie's first print media purchase and first move into the U.S. media market.

Macquarie Bank is the parent of Macquarie Infrastructure, one of the largest toll road operators in the world. Macquarie Infrastructure last year partnered with Cintra (Cintra-Macquarie) in a $3.85 Billion dollar toll road deal in Indiana.

D.J. Gribbin, a director for Macquarie, has just been nominated by President Bush to be General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Transportation and is awaiting senate confirmation.


UPDATE: Selling agent Halyard Capital finally returned my phone call from yesterday and stated that this deal is "subject to HSR", and would not elaborate. The FTC has an HSR approval process.

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