Sale of Style Weekly Explored

Richmond alt-weekly is part of privately held Landmark Communications holdings.

Landmark Communications Inc. has hired two national investment firms to explore selling the company, which owns scores of media holdings including Style Weekly in Richmond.

Landmark “has retained investment banks JPMorgan and Lehman Brothers to assist in exploring strategic alternatives, including the possible sale of the company’s businesses,” says Richard F. Barry III, vice chairman of the company.

JPMorgan is advising Landmark on the sale of The Weather Channel, one of its largest properties, and Lehman Brothers is advising the company on the sale of its other media assets, Barry says — including the Virginian-Pilot, the Roanoke Times and Style Weekly.

Lori Collier Waran, publisher of Style Weekly, says that readers, advertisers and other business partners can expect business as usual. “We just celebrated our 25th anniversary,” she says, “and we’re still going strong.”

Frank Batten Jr., chairman and chief executive of Landmark Communications Inc., says that the decision to explore the sale of the company was made by him, with input from his entire family.

“There was a consensus of the board of directors to do this,” says Batten, who has controlling interest of the private company. He took over the reins of the company, which now has revenue of more than $2 billion, in 1998 from his father, Frank Batten Sr.

Batten Jr. says his father agreed with the decision to explore options now. “There was no dissension,” he says. “It was an emotional, difficult decision for all of us. There was a consensus among family members that this was the right course to explore.”

Style Weekly Editor Jason Roop says the alt-weekly isn’t going anywhere: “Although I was disappointed to hear the Battens were exploring a sale, our readers will continue to get the best of in-depth, local reporting on news, arts and culture.”

Last year Style launched Belle, a bimonthly magazine for Richmond women, and continues to publish Home Style, a monthly magazine about home living, in addition to a number of other specialty projects. It also publishes

Landmark’s 2006 sales figures were estimated at $2 billion. Landmark is parent to nine daily newspapers and more than 100 non-daily newspaper and specialty publications.

Style Weekly is a subsidiary of Targeted Publications + Media, which is owned by the Virginian-Pilot. It includes more than 16 core print publications, more than 60 specialty publications, Web sites and a show and event company, and employs more than 200.

Style has 39 full-time employees. Its flagship weekly, which is a member of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, has a circulation of about 42,500.

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