PORTLAND, Maine – A wealthy hedge fund manager who rescued the Portland Press Herald and two other daily newspapers, investing $13 million over the past three years, is selling them to a newspaper executive.
Donald Sussman’s Maine Values LLC is selling the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel, along with the Coastal Journal in Bath, to a company controlled by Reade Brower, a newspaper owner from Rockland, said Lisa DeSisto, publisher of MaineToday Media. The deal, announced Tuesday, is to close on June 1.
The goal of Sussman, husband of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, was never to own the newspapers over the long haul but to ensure the newspapers’ survival, DeSisto said.
“He really rescued this newspaper in 2012 and got us on our feet,” she said. “His intention was never to be with us for the long term.”
Brower publishes several midcoast weeklies: The Free Press in Rockland, The Courier-Gazette in Rockland, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal in Belfast.
“I am looking forward to working with the team at MaineToday Media to build on the solid foundation Donald Sussman’s investment has created,” he said in a statement.
Sussman made his initial investment in the newspapers in 2012 after members of The Portland Newspaper Guild convinced him that the newspapers were at risk of closing without a quick infusion of cash. Sussman, of North Haven, is the founder of the Paloma Partners hedge fund, an investment firm in Greenwich, Connecticut, that manages several billion dollars in funds.
It will be the fourth time in less than 20 years that the Press Herald and its sister papers have been sold.
The Seattle Times Co. bought the newspapers in 1998 from longtime owner Guy Gannett Publishing Co. An investment group led by Richard Connor bought the newspaper in 2009. Connor left in 2011, and Sussman bought the newspapers a year later.
“It is my honour to have been the steward of these trusted newspapers for the last three years,” Sussman said in a statement.
Cliff Schechtman, executive editor of the Press Herald, said the arrangement allows the newspaper to continue watchdog journalism.
“We’ve built a news organization devoted to public service journalism,” he said. “Our mission does not change. In fact, this new arrangement helps ensure that our probing journalism continues to be a positive force for good in our communities.”