Quad-City Times owner purchasing Dispatch-Rock Island Argus

Lee Enterprises to pay $7.15 million in deal expected to close later this month

Lee Enterprises, owner of the Quad-City Times, announced an agreement Monday to purchase the assets of The Dispatch-Rock Island Argus, including QCOnline.com and related publications.

The purchase price is $7.15 million, including an adjustment for working capital and the sale is expected to close later this month, according to a press release.

In a memo to Quad-City Times and Muscatine Journal employees, publisher Debbie Anselm said, "We expect to retain a sizeable number of current Dispatch-Argus employees. Interviews will be scheduled over the next few days, and we hope to extend offers by the end of the week."

The note also mentioned that Lee intends to keep the Dispatch-Argus "editorially independent." 

Dispatch-Argus President Len R. Small said in a Lee Enterprises press release the owners need to have a smaller and more manageable footprint in the Midwest. 

"The choice of selling this property after a half-century was a difficult but necessary move," Small said. "It has been a great journey under the leadership of Gerald J. Taylor, whose storied career includes the launching of the Sunday edition, the purchase of The Rock Island Argus, the conversion to morning delivery and the founding of QCOnline.com at the beginning of the digital age."

The Small Newspaper Group owns three additional daily newspapers in Illinois and Minnesota.

"The Dispatch-Argus is a perfect strategic fit for Lee,” said Lee President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mowbray. “It is adjacent to two of our Iowa enterprises, in Davenport and Muscatine, so this will expand our audiences and create additional synergy opportunities. We expect the acquisition to provide immediate value, accretive to both earnings and free cash flow.”

Mowbray announced Anselm will become publisher of The Dispatch-Argus. She will succeed publisher Gerald J. Taylor.

"Lee is honored for The Dispatch-Argus to be joining our media family," Anselm said in the press release. "Our newspapers share rich histories of community leadership dating to the mid-1800s. In Moline, Rock Island, Davenport and Muscatine, we have embraced the same values for more than 150 years, an enduring commitment to strong local news and unfailing dedication to our readers and advertisers. That commitment and dedication will continue. The Dispatch-Argus will maintain its editorial independence and distinct voice as an indispensable community asset.”

Tom Biermann, a former publisher of the Casper Star-Tribune, has been appointed general manager of The Dispatch-Argus.

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