Richner Communications acquires L&M Publications

by Claude Solnik
Long Island Business News Published: August 9, 2013

Garden-City based Richner Communications has acquired L&M Publications’ assets, taking over Bellmore Life, Merrick Life, the Freeport-Baldwin Leader and Wantagh-Seaford Citizen weekly newspapers.

The deal for Linda Toscano and Paul Laursen to sell the publications to Richner, Long Island’s largest chain of weeklies, closed on Thursday. Terms of the transaction weren’t revealed.

Toscano, L&M’s publisher, won’t have a formal title or role at Richner, although Laursen, L&M’s managing editor, will remain involved with the publications under the new ownership.

“We’re selling to a company that can do better for our advertisers and readers and has economies of scale,” Toscano told LIBN on Friday. “The main reason was for the company to be successful and continue to serve the community.”

Toscano said Richner is taking on about half of L&M’s 20 employees. The rest were let go Thursday. Richner officials didn’t return calls seeking comment.

“They’re going into Freeport, Wantagh and Seaford where they didn’t have a newspaper,” said Kevin B. Kamen, president of Kamen & Co. Group Services, which represented L&M. “It opens up new markets for Richner Communications. It was an intelligent, strategic acquisition.”

Richner, a 15-paper group that stretches across the South Shore and in the Town of Hempstead, has been expanding by buying up smaller chains. The firm earlier explained its motives for the deal.

“It’s a strategically sound move for us,” Publisher Clifford Richner told LIBN last month after the deal was announced. “It will enable us to better meet the needs of our advertisers.”

L&M’s flagship newspaper, Merrick Life, was founded in 1938 with additional publications being added to the chain over the years. Kamen said L&M began talks with Richner about the acquisition in April.

“We were able to come to terms pretty quickly,” he said. “There were other offers involved.”

Richner has been growing by buying newspapers for a dozen years. It acquired the Nassau Community Newspaper Group in 2001 and purchased the more-than-a-century-old Oyster Bay Guardian from members of Cablevision’s Dolan family in 2010.

The deal for L&M’s assets is just the latest newspaper transaction to occur since Aug. 1

On Aug. 3, The New York Times Co. sold its New England Media Group, including the Boston Globe, to Boston Red Sox owner John Henry for $70 million, far less than the $1.1 billion the Times had paid for the publication.

And on Monday, The Washington Post Co. announced it is selling its flagship paper and some additional assets to founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million.

“The landscape has changed drastically in the media world in the past few years. The digital components play a key role,” Kamen said. “Daily newspapers are struggling. Weekly newspapers are challenged, because of the competitiveness.”

Richner Communications was founded in 1964 by Robert and Edith Richner, parents of the current publishers.

In addition to the 15 Herald newspapers, Richner publishes The Oyster Bay Guardian, The Jewish Star and The Riverdale Press in the Bronx.

The company also publishes PrimeTime Xpress, a weekly shopping guide with 10 editions on the South Shore, and Xpress Coups, a quarterly coupon book.

The Richners also are principal owners of Broadstreet Media, which publishes weekly newspapers and shoppers in Baltimore, Philadelphia and New Jersey, and the New Jersey Marketeer, a shopping publication in northern New Jersey.