Birmingham Weekly Sold to Holding Company

Creative Loafing chain is one of the investors.

Birmingham Weekly, formerly owned by Tina Savas, has been sold to Magnolia Media, a newly-created holding company consisting of three separate investors. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The primary interest in Magnolia is held by Chuck Leishman, who was named publisher of the paper when the sale was announced last month at the AAN convention in Phoenix. Leishman, who previously worked for PitchWeekly, Yesse! Communications and the News & Review chain, joined Birmingham Weekly as general manager late last year and was actively involved in the transaction.

The other investors in Magnolia are Creative Loafing, the Southeast’s dominant alternative newsweekly chain; and The Strip, a monthly arts and entertainment paper based in Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama.

Leishman said Creative Loafing’s involvement in the paper will allow his staff to “quickly and efficiently grow circulation.” He projected that circulation would increase by 25 percent and reach 40,000 by the end of the year, if not sooner.

The acquisition also led to the closing of the monthly Creative Loafing Birmingham. Leishman said CL-Birmingham’s small business staff was hired by the Weekly following the sale.

Magnolia Media also now owns The Strip, whose owners surrendered equity in the paper in return for an interest in the parent company. According to Publisher Brooks Cloud, The Strip plans to expand its news coverage and hopes to transition to weekly circulation by this fall.

Birmingham Weekly was admitted into AAN two years ago on a second-ballot vote after Savas made an impassioned plea on behalf of her paper during the annual meeting at the Washington, D.C. convention. It is the third AAN-member paper owned by the Creative Loafing chain. The company also owns three non-member alternative papers.

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