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Inquirer, Daily News sold to Norcross group for $55M

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A group of Philadelphia and South Jersey business leaders announced today its completion of a $55 million takeover of the company that publishes the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.

In addition to the $55 million price tag, the new buyers, known as Interstate General Media LLC, will invest as much as $10 million in working capital for operations.

"This is first and foremost a business decision," said George E. Norcross III, a managing partner of Interstate and chairman of Conner, Strong & Buckelew and Cooper Health System, in a statement. "Our intention is to own the business and find new ways to make the business successful. But we have no intention of running the business or influencing news decisions."

In the announcement, William P. Hankowsky, chairman, president and CEO of Malvern, Pa.-based Liberty Property Trust and a member of Interstate, added that he expects the company to place greater emphasis on forging a dynamic relationship with the region's business community to drive advertising and sponsorship revenues.

The buying group includes: Norcross, a South Jersey political power broker; Hankowsky, K.P. "Kris" Singh, president and CEO of Marlton-based Holtec International; Lewis Katz, who previously owned Kinney System Holding Corp., a major national parking company; H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest, a philanthropist who founded The Lenfest Foundation; and Joseph Buckelew, chairman of Connor, Strong and Buckelew.

Katz said the new owners have agreed that Philadelphia Media Network Publisher and CEO Greg Osberg will remain at the helm of the company.

In 2006, Philadelphia Media Holdings, led by Brian Tierney, paid $515 million, plus assumption of liabilities — which included $47 million in pension liabilities — to get the newspapers. In February 2009, after the group declared bankruptcy, its creditors organized as Philadelphia Media Network and won the papers at auction in 2010 for $139 million.

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