Sale of EVT to Explorer owner needs only judge's approval

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Randy Miller, the owner of the Oro Valley and Marana paper the Explorer, is poised to add another newspaper to his collection: the East Valley Tribune.

An affiliate to Miller's Thirteenth Street Media has reached a deal with the East Valley Tribune's owner Freedom Communications to allow the Colorado-based company to take the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper out of bankruptcy. The final sale of the Phoenix-area newspaper hinges on a federal bankruptcy judge approving the $2.05 million sale.

From the Tribune:

Freedom, based in Irvine, Calif., has been reorganizing under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code since September.

Freedom asked in Tuesday's filing that any other bids be submitted by March 5. If additional qualifying bids are submitted, Freedom said it would conduct an auction on or before March 8 to determine the highest and best bid.

Freedom said in its filing that the businesses being sold are operating at a loss. A three-week delay for a formal court-supervised auction process would result in losses of at least $60,000 a week.

Pending court approval of the sale, Freedom said it will continue to publish and distribute its Valley publications - the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tribune, the Sun City Daily News-Sun, Ahwatukee Foothills News, Glendale/Peoria Today and Surprise Today. It will also operate its Arizona Interactive Media Group, which publishes the Clipper, a monthly direct mail product, and the EastValleyTribune.com, YourWestValley.com and Ahwatukee.com Web sites. All of those properties are included in the sale.

Current Tribune employees would be wise to remember what happened the last time Miller bought a newspaper.

Freedom has announced that the deal would result in a "substantial" number of existing associates who would keep their jobs. After the sale is finalized, associates will be given offer letters from 1013 Communications, and those associates who do not receive offers will be eligible for severance.

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