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Boston Herald has trio of new possible buyers

Globe Staff

By Danny McDonald Globe Staff 

The Boston Herald has a trio of new suitors, according to one official at the paper.

Jeff Magram, the Herald’s chief operating officer, confirmed in an e-mail to the Globe Friday night that three bidders have expressed interest in buying the tabloid in the week since the Herald announced it was filing for bankruptcy and being sold to GateHouse Media for $4.5 million in cash.

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“Confirming three new bidders for the Boston Herald have surfaced since Pat Purcell’s announcement of a sale on Dec 8th,” wrote Magram in the e-mail.

When asked in a follow-up e-mail if the three suitors definitely intend to submit bids for the paper, or if they have already submitted bids, Magram was vague: “All in early stage,” he wrote.

He did not identify the interested parties. The news was first reported by the Herald.

Attempts to reach Herald publisher Patrick J. Purcell Friday night were unsuccessful. GateHouse Media, which owns more newspapers than any other publisher in the United States, did not immediately return a message Friday night.

The proposed GateHouse deal has to be approved by a bankruptcy court in Delaware. During that process, other bidders can jump into the fray.

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In an emotional speech last Friday, Purcell said he had tried as long as possible to keep the Herald afloat, adding that he did not want to see it go out of business. GateHouse, Purcell said, will keep 175 of the Herald’s roughly 240 employees.

Staffers were told they would have to interview with the new owners in January in order for them to continue working at the paper.

About half the Herald’s jobs are in the newsroom, or 120 employees.

Purcell bought the Herald, which was founded in 1846 and is known for its spirited crime, political, and sports coverage, from media mogul Rupert Murdoch in 1994.

Faced with challenges endemic to the print media industry, the paper’s circulation fell to 45,155 for an average weekday in the third quarter of this year. That’s down from about 84,000 in 2011, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

GateHouse’s bid is predicated on dismissing the paper’s collective bargaining agreements and changing pension and health care obligations, court documents show.

GateHouse owns 130 dailies and more than 640 community papers. In Massachusetts, the company’s papers include the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, and the Enterprise in Brockton.


Beth Healey and Jon Chesto of Globe Staff contributed to this report Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com
Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.