British Columbia

Victoria Times Colonist sold to B.C. company

The 150-year-old Victoria Times Colonist newspaper, along with 22 others, have been sold to the B.C. company Glacier Media.

Deal part of the sale of 23 B.C. newspapers

The Victoria Times-Colonist was founded in 1858. ((timescolonist.com))

B.C.-based Glacier Media Inc. says it will buy the Victoria Times-Colonist and other daily and community papers in the province, continuing a recent wave of deals in the Canadian newspaper industry.

The $86.5 million acquisition from Postmedia Network Inc. also includes two other dailies and 20 weekly and bi-weekly community papers and related digital media and real estate assets.

The community newspapers Glacier is buying are on the B.C. Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

Glacier president and CEO John Kennedy said the deal significantly increases Glacier's presence in B.C. and gives the Vancouver-area based publisher the broadest local newspaper coverage in Western Canada.

"We were in 65 markets before and this gives us another 20 titles," he said in an interview late Tuesday.

"It significantly increases our reach across British Columbia as well as Western Canada for local, regional and national advertisers and provides significant digital media opportunities."

The Times Colonist was founded in 1858 and serves Victoria and Vancouver Island. It is one of Canada's oldest newspapers. Other papers it will buy include the Vancouver Courier, the Nanaimo Daily News and the North Shore News.

The deal won't much change the reader's experience, Kennedy said, as Glacier is happy with the direction the papers are taking.

"We think the papers are well run, have great staff, have great brands, are strong quality and we want to sustain that," he said.

Vancouver Sun and Province not in deal

The purchase does not include The Vancouver Sun or The Province, two of Canada's most widely read newspapers. Kennedy said Glacier did not approach Postmedia about those properties as the company tends to focus on smaller papers.

"In local communities you're the primary source of information and a primary marketing channel for advertisers so it offers you a unique selling proposition," he said.

Postmedia is the former Canwest newspaper publisher and owner of the Calgary Herald, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen and National Post, has been focusing on paying down debt inherited from the bankrupt Canwest.

The Toronto-based company said it will use the money from the Glacier deal to further cut debt.

Meanwhile, Glacier, based in Richmond, B.C., will take on more debt to finance the purchase with bank loans, but its debt load will remain manageable and cash flow will increase.

It said it will focus in the short-term on paying down debt while interest rates are low and integrating the new papers into its business.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of November.