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ALT WEEKLY OWNER BUYS D.C., ATLANTA.

SouthComm Inc. of Nashville, Tenn., said on Tuesday it would acquire the last papers owned by Creative Loafing Inc. of Tampa, Fla.: the Washington City Paper and Creative Loafing Atlanta. No terms for the deal were announced.

SouthComm last year bought two other Creative Loafing titles, those in Charlotte, N.C., and Tampa, and in March acquired Cincinnati's CityBeat from the local publisher. The company was formed in 2007 and in addition to its 20 non-daily titles, also has a custom publishing unit that specializes in creating community magazines and membership directories for chambers of commerce.

Creative Loafing, like many daily newspaper publishers in the 2000s, expanded too quickly and took on too much debt just before the massive ad recession of 2008. The company was founded by a husband-and-wife team in the early 1970s in Atlanta and in the 1980s expanded to Charlotte and Tampa. The couple's son, Ben Eason, took over the business in 2000; that deal was in part financed by Cox Enterprises Inc., owner of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, which exited the business on uncivil terms in 2004.

A $40 million acquisition binge by Creative Loafing in 2007 -- where the company acquired the Chicago Reader as well as the City Paper -- resulted in a bankruptcy a year later. When it exited Chapter 11 in 2009, Creative Loafing was owned by the investment fund Atalaya Capital Management of New York City; the fund attempted to run the business for about 18 months and then sought to liquidate its assets.

The Reader was acquired by Wrapports LLC, owner of the Chicago Sun-Times, in May.

In other newspaper-related mergers and acquisitions news, Schurz Communications of suburban South Bend, Ind., said on Tuesday it had bought Orbitel Communications LLC of Maricopa, Ariz., from MCG Capital Corp. of Arlington, Va. Terms of the deal weren't revealed.

Schurz owns 11 daily and eight weekly papers mostly in the Midwest -- including its flagship South Bend Tribune -- and also has 10 TV stations and operates 16 radio stations, in addition to cable operations in Maryland and Florida.

In March the company purchased Western Broadband of Sun Lakes, Ariz. Both the Orbitel and Western Broadband operations serve small communities just south of Phoenix and are about 18 miles apart.

Like Brown Publishing and Freedom Communications before it, Creative Loafing's post-Chapter 11 owners found it is no longer fun to be in publishing and liquidated the company. Though it took Atalaya a lot longer than the others to figure that out.
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Publication:NewsInc
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Jul 9, 2012
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