Fortress Investment Group co-founder Wes Edens raised a few eyebrows last September when he told investors that a new version of GateHouse Media was aiming to make $1 billion in acquisitions.
To me, this seemed like an exaggerated sales pitch, used to help promote an unusual restructuring that Edens and his team had engineered for GateHouse.
Part of that restructuring involved taking GateHouse in and out of bankruptcy court, to unshackle itself from the debt it accumulated while buying up community papers with Fortress’ backing before the economy imploded. I heard from current employees and former employees (As a former editor at The Patriot Ledger, I fall into the latter category) who were at least a little bit skeptical of this $1 billion goal.
But it seems like that number is real after all. How real? Well, the new parent of the GateHouse papers, now called New Media Investment Group, made an investor presentation this week that said New Media wants to acquire $1 billion worth of newspapers and directories over the next three years.
So far, New Media has reached 9 percent of that goal, with its $82 million purchase of the Local Media Group from Dow Jones and a more recent $8 million purchase of some papers in California. (New Media became a new public company last month with Fortress’ help, and Edens is its board chairman.)