Landmark suspends sale of media properties

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Landmark Media Enterprises LLC announced Wednesday that it has suspended the search for buyers for most of its properties, including community newspapers The Gazette and The Declaration, citing the "credit crisis."

But the company is continuing negotiations to sell The Virginian-Pilot.

"We are having discussions regarding The Virginian Pilot with an interested buyer," said Landmark's vice chairman, Richard F. Barry III, on Wednesday. "The buyer is encouraged about obtaining financing."

Barry declined to identify the prospective buyer or say when he expected the sale to be completed.

Landmark, in a press release, said it will suspend the sales process for most of its businesses, including the tri-weekly Gazette, the weekly Declaration and The Roanoke Times, a daily.

"The credit crisis has made it virtually impossible for companies to obtain bank commitments to help finance acquisitions," said Frank Batten Jr., Landmark's chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement.

"And the recession has reduced revenue and earnings and made it very difficult to value a business. As a result, we have decided to largely suspend the sales process.

"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.

Landmark officials announced in January that they were looking to sell the media company's businesses.

In September, Landmark completed the sale of its most profitable business, The Weather Channel Cos., to NBC Universal and two private equity firms. The sales price was not disclosed, but people close to the parties said it was about $3.5 billion.

Two weeks ago, however, Landmark announced that the planned sale of its Nashville television station to Bonten Media Group Inc. of New York had fallen through because of credit problems.