Vincent Farnsworth 4:30 p.m., March 15
Rumored Copley Suitor Puts Out Racy, Alternative Publications, but Has Debt Woes
Black Press Ltd. of Vancouver is once again rumored to be making a deal with Copley Press for the Union-Tribune, which has been on sale since July. As I reported last August, the owner David Holmes Black (no relation to scandal-plagued Canadian press lord Conrad Black) was seen at Copley shortly after the "for sale" sign went out, and has been reportedly been seen there again recently. Black Press owns more than 100 newspapers, many around Vancouver, but also in other Canada and U.S. locations. In doing research, I learned for the first time that Black owns two alternative publications, "Monday Magazine" and "WE" that appeal to a younger, anti-establishment audience. A recent issue of WE features a story on "Love, Sex & Kink: Three's Company," explaining polyamory, or multiple and simultaneous sexual adventures. Monday Magazine has an adult section featuring "graphic depictions and text descriptions of nudity and sexual activity." But is this just another rumor about a sale? In late January, Standard & Poor's lowered the Black Press debt rating to B from B+. That's deeper into junk bond status. In the event of default, investors can now expect to recover 50% to 70% of their investment, versus 70% to 90% earlier. I called Black Press to talk about the alternative papers; I got through to David Holmes Black. He confirmed that his company owned the alternative papers, but when I asked about a possible Copley purchase, he said, "I thought you wanted to talk about alternative papers. Good talking with you, Don," and hung up the phone. One rumor is that a deal could be done this week. The only price I heard mentioned is so low I hesitate to repeat it. Warning: Copley sale rumors raced around the company decades before it put itself up for sale.