Atlanta-based Creative Loafing buys Chicago Reader

[via Editor and Publisher]

The alternative weekly landscape contracted again this week as the Tampa, Fla.-based Creative Loafing agreed to acquire the Chicago Reader and the Washington City Paper.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Skyway Capital Partners of Tampa represented Creative Loafing. BIA Digital Partners in Chantilly, Va., invested in the deal and Gregg Johnson of BIA will serve on Creative Loafing's board. Dallas based Bulkley Capital represented the Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper.

The Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper joins Creative Loafing's stable of weeklies in Atlanta, Tampa, Sarasota, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C.

"We are extremely proud to be associated with these great media companies," Ben Eason, Creative Loafing CEO, said in a statement. "The addition of two top-ten markets -- and two of the industry's most respected alternative news products -- offers us a pivotal gateway of connectivity with the young adult audience."

The purchase also includes the syndicated column "Straight Dope" and its associated Web site.

In a separate statement the owner of the Chicago Reader and Washington City Paper Bob Roth said the following:

"We are more grateful than we can say to the readers and advertisers who have supported us in both Chicago and Washington, and especially to the extraordinary writers, editors, photographers, artists, and staff who have worked with us since we started in 1971... We've had a great ride. Now we're happily handing the keys to a new generation. We're confident they will build on what we've established and carry it ably into the future."

Reader and City Paper shareholders will continue in a company to be called Quarterfold, Inc., through which they will retain interests in The Stranger in Seattle, the Portland (Ore.) Mercury, and Amsterdam Weekly.

Eason said in a statement the move will produce savings from combined corporate and administrative costs and through Creative Loafing's centralized production and printing facilities.

The Reader was founded 1971 with an average circulation of 135,000. The City Paper was started in 1982 with an average circ of 80,000.

Eason's family founded Creative Loafing in 1972 in Atlanta. The company since expanded into Charlotte, Tampa, and Sarasota and holds a minority interest in the Birmingham (Ala.) Weekly.

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