Howe, Venture Firm Buy Stake in Nashville Scene

Scene Owners Del Favero and Dobie Will Join Management Team of Newly Formed Holding Company.

Former Montgomery Newspapers publisher Art Howe and venture capital firm Weiss, Peck & Greer have acquired a stake in the Nashville Scene, it was announced Monday. Scene co-owners Albie Del Favero and Bruce Dobie will maintain an interest in the paper and will join Howe in forming the management team of City Communications, a holding company created for the purpose of acquiring other alternative weeklies.

Meanwhile, City Communications announced today that it signed a letter of intent to buy 80% of Ace Magazine, an AAN paper based in Lexington, Kentucky.

“For nearly two years, we have been looking for a partner to assist us with an acquisition strategy,” said Del Favero in a press release issued by the Nashville Scene. “Both Art Howe and Weiss, Peck & Greer have solid backgrounds in building media companies, and we couldn’t have found better partners.”

Weiss, Peck & Greer is a San Francisco-based private venture capital firm that manages over $16 billion in assets. According to its website, the firm invests primarily in the areas of information technology and life sciences, and has started or contributed to the development of dozens of noteworthy companies, including Adaptec, Ciena and Federal Express, as well as recent Internet leaders like DoubleClick, and the E-greetings Network. The press release issued by the Scene says “the firm is an experienced media investor” and that recent investments have included the Fort Worth community newspaper group Lionheart Newspapers Inc., Marcus Cable and Regent Communications.

Howe will be chief executive officer of the new company. “It’s a wonderful partnership,” Howe told AAN News. “I think the Nashville Scene is a wonderful paper — it’s one of the most successful in our industry. We’re looking to build upon that success. We think we have a great formula.”

While the company plans to build a national chain of alternative weeklies, Del Favero and Dobie will be charged with acquiring papers in the Southeastern United States. They will also retain their present positions of publisher and editor of the Scene. They declined to disclose the size of the ownership interest they maintained in the paper.

City Communications’ acquiring management team also includes Mike Craven and Jim Thompson, former owners and executives of Liberty Broadcasting and Group W Broadcasting.

Howe declined to comment when asked whether City Communications was interested in pursuing the acquisition of the Stern Publishing alternative newsweekly chain. The seven Stern papers were put up for sale in September, and an announcement regarding their disposition is expected before the end of the year.

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