Daytona Beach News-Journal to be sold after losing legal dispute with Cox Enterprises

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.: The Daytona Beach News-Journal told its employees Thursday that the family-owned newspaper will be sold after it lost a legal battle with Cox Enterprises, a minority shareholder.

In an e-mail to its employees, News-Journal officials said, "The options available to the company have narrowed to the point that it is now clear that the company will be sold as a going business."

Georgia Kaney, publisher, CEO and president, said the paper will not stop doing business in an e-mail to an Associated Press reporter, referring him to the paper's Web site for details. The letter to employees says that timing of the sale is unknown, as are any potential buyers.

Brian Cooper, executive vice president of Cox Newspapers in Atlanta, said the chain is not interested in purchasing the News-Journal.

"I'm sure there will be a vigorous bidding process, even in these tough times. Florida is a wonderful place to own a newspaper," Cooper said.

In 2004, Cox sued in response to the News-Journal paying $13 million for the naming rights of the News-Journal Center, a performing arts center in Daytona Beach. The newspaper has long been a supporter of the arts.

The News-Journal opted out of that lawsuit by electing to buy its own shares from Cox.

But The News-Journal and Cox failed to reach an agreement and a judge ordered that the fair value of its News-Journal stock was $129 million, an amount difficult to raise with current credit market problems.

The News-Journal is a Florida corporation controlled by the estate of Herbert M. "Tippen" Davidson, which controls 52.5 percent of the shares. Cox Enterprises, a privately held corporation that owns substantial media properties — 17 newspapers, including The Palm Beach Post and The Atlanta-Journal Constitution — holds 47.5 percent of the News-Journal stock.

Cox gained its News-Journal shares under a deal when it bought The Palm Beach Post in 1969.

The Davidson family have run the newspaper for 80 years.

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