Press Herald owner secures ‘significant new capital’

Maine Today Media Inc. the company that owns newspapers including the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Waterville, announced today it had secured “significant new capital” with a new group of investors led by a former Press Herald executive.

Chris Harte, who was president of the Portland Press Herald in the early 1990s, is part of the investment team 2100 Trust, according to a release put out by Maine Today Media.

According to the release, the 2100 trust, led by founder Aaron Kushner, Harte and media executive Jack Griffin, “has spent a year assembling a group of New England-based investors and media executives who understand the critical role newspapers play in our community and are committed to re-invigorating them with fresh ideas, capital and disciplined management.”

Details of the investment, including how much money the team was putting into Maine Today Media, was not included in the release.

Maine Today Media Chairman Peter Brodsky said in the release, “The people who work at Maine Today Media perform important work that is vital to Maine communities,” said Brodsky.  “Chris Harte and his team are clearly committed and passionate about growing and strengthening the company and we look forward to completing the deal as quickly as possible.”

Harte, who was president of the PPH from 1992 to 1994, and later was publisher of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, said the Maine Today Media company “presents many opportunities to reach the residents of Maine.”

“We are acutely aware of the history and impact these newspapers have had on their communities and our most important job will be meeting the high bar that has been set. Our goal is to invest and grow this business by delivering professional, trusted news to Maine people,” Harte said.

Kushner, of Wellesly, Mass., is an entrepreneur who, for the last year or so, has been trying to put together a team to buy the Boston Globe.

According to the release, the agreement calls for both parties to finalize and sign a deal as quickly as possible.  Upon closing the transaction, the release said, the 2100 Trust would operate Maine Today Media’s properties with a team made up of current management and other experienced media industry professionals.

Maine Today Media has undergone some serious cuts and changes in top management in recent months. In October, the Press Herald underwent a round of layoffs, both voluntary and involuntary, that resulted in 61 job losses.

Later that same month, it was announced that Richard L. Connor, who bought the paper along with other investors in 2009, was stepping down from his position. At the time, a source who asked not to be identified told the Bangor Daily News that Connor’s resignation came amidst increasing disagreement between him and the company’s board of directors over the direction of MaineToday Media.

And in November, a North Carolina paper company filed suit against Maine Today Media, alleging it was not paid for tons of paper delivered to the company. McGrann Paper Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., sought payment of more than $124,000 in unpaid bills for more than 300,000 pounds of paper.