Freedom Keeps It in the Family

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Freedom Communications Inc. struck a deal to recapitalize the company with two venture-capital firms -- Blackstone Communications Partners and Providence Equity Partners Inc. -- which will keep the family-controlled broadcaster-publisher in the hands of the Hoiles family while buying out family members who want to cash in their shares.

The parties involved were scant on details.

Blackstone and Providence will make "significant" investments in the company, valued at about $1.8 billion, but the Hoiles family will retain control.

"The goal from the beginning has always been fairness to everyone’s objectives," Freedom president and CEO Alan Bell said. And this deal, he added, "works for everybody."

By agreeing to do a deal with the venture firms, Freedom rejected several offers from other media companies to buy it outright, including a joint bid from Gannett Co. Inc. and MediaNews Group Inc.

That bid was believed to value Freedom at a higher price than the $1.8 billion the Blackstone/Providence recapitalization put on the company. But an outright sale was not what all of the family members wanted, Bell said.

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