Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Tampa Bay Times Sells Print Plant

The Tampa Bay Times has sold its St. Petersburg printing plant to a hedge fund — and plans to use most of the proceeds to pay off a loan from some of the region's wealthiest executives and philanthropists.

The Tampa Bay Business Journal reports The Times announced Tuesday the sale of the 27-acre printing plant on 34th Street North to Twenty Lake, the commercial real estate arm of hedge fund Alden Global Capital. The newspaper, which reduced its print edition circulation to Wednesdays and Sundays in May 2020, outsourced its printing to a Lakeland printing facility owned by media giant Gannett Co. in early 2021.

The Times shuttered the printing plant earlier this year, cutting 150 jobs and asking remaining employees to take a 10 percent pay cut.

Conan Gallaty, president of Times Publishing Co., told his own paper that the majority of the proceeds from the sale will pay off a $15 million loan from FBN Partners. Some of the proceeds will go toward pension contributions.

“This is a good result and puts the Times on solid footing as we move toward a more digital future,” Gallaty said in a statement.

FBN Partners includes Tampa Bay Lighting owner Jeff Vinik, BluePearl Veterinary Partners CEO and Ybor City developer Darry Shawl, philanthropist and developer Dr. Kiran Patel, philanthropist Frank Morsani and his wife, Carol and Times Chairman Paul Tash.

The Times reports it will lease back part of the land for use as a distribution center while Alden develops the rest for “non-newspaper purposes,” said Times Publishing Co. president Conan Gallaty.

Gallaty acknowledged that dealing with an Alden-controlled company might raise eyebrows within the newspaper industry. But he said the Times and Alden have no other dealings planned.

“The ability to apply these proceeds to good uses for us helps keep us independent and locally owned,” Gallaty said.

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