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Trimble Banner to remain a Landmark property

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By Lorrie Kinkade

By LORRIE KINKADE

The Trimble Banner

The Trimble Banner will remain property of Landmark Communications, Inc.

At least for now.

Tough economic times are being credited with causing a suspension of the sale of the Trimble County-based paper, as well as other area publications owned by company. The news was announced Oct. 29.

In January, company executives, including those working for The Trimble Banner’s parent division, Landmark Community Newspapers, Inc., confirmed reports that two national investment firms, JPMorgan and Lehman Brothers, had been contracted to assist in exploring the sale of the company’s multiple media outlets. At the time, the company’s media portfolio contained three metropolitan newspapers, television stations in Nevada and Tennessee, The Weather Channel, Dominion Enterprises and LCNI, among other holdings.

In September, the sale of The Weather Channel was completed, with NBC Universal, Bain Capital and the Blackstone Group taking over control of the 25-year-old cable station. Additional, though smaller, sales were also completed in September, however an agreement to sell Nashville, Tennessee-based WTVF-TV was cancelled last month after the buyer’s financing fell though.

In a statement issued by Landmark CEO and Board Chairman Frank Batten, Jr., the current “credit crisis” was said to have made securing funding for the purchase of the remaining Landmark properties “virtually impossible” for potential buyers. Additionally, the economic downturn has reduced profits for Landmark, Batten said, thus preventing an accurate assessment of the company’s financial worth.

Batten said the company remains committed to selling the Landmark businesses, however, he conceded this could be two to three years down the road.

“We are proud of our businesses and confident about their future – and will not sell them at a time of uncertainty at depressed values,” Batten said in another prepared statement.

For now, it will continue to be business as usual at The Trimble Banner and other LCNI newspapers in the region, which include The News-Democrat in Carrollton, The Henry County Local in New Castle, The Oldham Era in LaGrange and The Sentinel News in Shelbyville.