07/20/2009 – Cooke Communications to buy Cox N.C. Publications

Rocky Mount Telegram  – Monday, July 20, 2009

Cox Enterprises Inc. announced today it has reached a definitive agreement to sell three of its North Carolina newspapers – the Rocky Mount Telegram, The Daily Reflector of Greenville and The Daily Advance of Elizabeth City – and ten weekly newspapers in eastern North Carolina to Cooke Communications LLC, a privately-held family company headed by John Kent Cooke.

The transaction is expected to close in the upcoming weeks.

The weekly publications include the Beaufort-Hyde News (Bellhaven), Bertie-Ledger Advance (Windsor), The Chowan Herald (Edenton), Duplin Times (Kenansville), The Enterprise (Williamston), Farmville Enterprise, Perquimans Weekly (Elizabeth City), Standard Laconic (Snow Hill), Times-Leader (Ayden-Grifton) and Weekly Herald (Robersonville).

“These papers provide a valuable service to many communities across North Carolina,” said Doug Franklin, executive vice president, Cox Newspapers. “Cox Enterprises began as a family-owned newspaper, and we’re confident that the Cooke family will be excellent owners of these papers and continue to foster a strong commitment to the community and advertisers.”

“We will continue the strong tradition of family-owned independent newspapers serving these communities of eastern North Carolina,” John Kent Cooke said. “We look forward to working with the talented staffs at these newspapers to continue providing timely, accurate local news that matters to readers’ lives. We believe in local, local, local,” he said, speaking about the content of the newspapers.

Cooke’s eldest son, John Kent Cooke Jr., will move to the Greenville area to become president of Cooke Communications North Carolina and publisher of The Daily Reflector. It is anticipated that virtually all employees will be retained under the new ownership.

As announced in 2008, Cox Enterprises continues to market for sale its newspapers in Texas. Cox recently sold The Lufkin Daily News and The Daily Sentinel (Nacogdoches, Texas), and the company plans to complete its sale of the Waco Tribune-Herald, as well as The Daily Sentinel and The Nickel (Grand Junction, Colo.) in the upcoming weeks. Citigroup and Dirks, Van Essen & Murray have been retained to assist Cox Enterprises with the marketing of these assets.

Cox Enterprises is a leading communications, media and automotive services company. With revenues exceeding $15 billion and more than 77,000 employees, the company’s major operating subsidiaries include Cox Communications, Inc. (cable television distribution, telephone, high-speed Internet access, commercial telecommunications, advertising solutions and the Travel Channel); Manheim, Inc. (vehicle auctions, repair and certification services and web-based technology products); Cox Media Group, Inc. (television stations, digital media, newspapers, advertising sales rep firms and Cox Radio, Inc.); and AutoTrader.com (online automotive classifieds and related publications). Additionally, Cox’s Internet operations include Kudzu.com and Adify Corporation, a unit of Cox TMI, Inc.

Cooke Communications, LLC is a private corporation headed by John Kent Cooke. It owns The Key West Citizen (8,900 daily, 9,749 Sunday), a number of weekly newspapers stringing the Florida Keys, and Internet publishing business floridakeys.com

Previously, John Kent Cooke was part owner of The Los Angeles Daily News, the Washington Redskins and The Chrysler Building in New York City, among other businesses. He was executive vice president of the Washington Redskins for 18 years and retired as president upon the liquidation of the family company to fund the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. He resides in Middleburg, Va. where he established The Boxwood Winery.

John Kent Cooke Jr. has been publisher of The Key West Citizen, the weekly Free Press community papers and keysnews.com for nine years. He graduated from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. His media experience includes working as a reporter at The Fauquier Times Democrat in Warrenton, Va. and the Steamboat Pilot and Today newspapers in Steamboat Springs, Colo. He also was director of marketing and stadium operations for the Washington Redskins in the 1990s.

Thomas Kent Cooke is a graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara Calif. He was a freelance photographer until joining AOL in Washington, D.C. He has been the CEO of the internet company, floridakeys.com, in Key West for the past nine years. He will continue to reside in Florida as CEO of floridakeys.com and will become president of Florida Cooke Communications, LLC.

Paul A Clarin, who has served as Cooke Communications corporate CFO since 2001, has been named publisher of The Key West Citizen and accompanying weekly community newspapers in the Florida Keys.