Communications Voir to Acquire Ottawa X Press

Montreal-based company now Canada's largest alt-weekly chain.

In a deal scheduled to close next week, Communications Voir Inc. has signed a letter of intent to acquire AAN member Ottawa X Press.

X Press Publisher/Executive Editor Jim Creskey said the agreement was reached in late January after he met with Communications Voir President Pierre Paquet. According to Creskey, Paquet earlier that month had acquired Zone, a French-language monthly also headquartered in the national capital area, and the two met to see if they could find “some way to avoid competition.”

“One thing lead to another and (Paquet) decided to buy (the Ottawa X Press ) as well,” said Creskey, who has been at the helm of the X Press since its inception eight years ago.

Communications Voir now owns the largest alternative newsweekly group in Canada. Ottawa X Press is its fifth paper, joining Hour Magazine and the French-language weeklies Voir-Montreal, Voir-Quebec, and Voir-Outaouais. Hour is an AAN-member paper, as were Voir-Montreal and Voir-Quebec until they decided not to rejoin this year.

Voir-Outaouais is a newly launched version of Zone. After assuming control of the paper, Communications Voir turned it into a weekly and changed its name; Outaouais is the largely French-speaking region in western Quebec where the paper is based.

Paquet owns 33% of the company, although he said his shareholder agreement provides him with complete operational control. One of the other two shareholders is Remi Marcoux, chairman and CEO of G.T.C. Transcontinental Group Ltd., a printing and publishing company with 53 magazines, 68 weekly newspapers and $1.8 billion in annual revenue. Transcontinental also recently launched a free-circulation transit-system daily in Montreal.

According to Paquet, Communications Voir plans to redesign the 42,000-circulation X Press and increase its print size from a 13.5-inch to a 15-inch tabloid. Paquet said the company will redesign Hour as well, unifying the two papers’ grids to facilitate national ad sales. “We’re hoping there’s room for growth, but we’ll get to know the market better before making any other changes,” he said.

Paquet said the X Press staff will remain intact; last week they took a first-class train ride to Montreal to get a look at how his other papers are run.

Creskey thinks he’s leaving the paper in good hands under Paquet: “He publishes good newspapers, runs a happy shop, and treats his people good.”

Creskey will continue to publish parliamentary newspaper Hill Times, the Canadian version of Washington, D.C.’s Roll Call. However, with one less paper to worry about, he vowed to spend more time on his farm.

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