ACON Investments has acquired Fairway Outdoor from Morris Communications Co., for an undisclosed amount. ACON will merge Fairway with Magic Media, an existing portfolio company that also focuses on the outdoor advertising space.
ACON Investments, LLC (ACON) announced today that it has successfully completed the acquisition of Fairway Outdoor (Fairway) from a subsidiary of Morris Communications Company, LLC (Morris). Fairway will be combined with Magic Media (Magic), ACON’s existing outdoor advertising company, to form Fairway Magic Outdoor, LLC (FMO). Terms were not disclosed.
At closing FMO is one of the largest privately owned outdoor advertising companies in the United States with over 19,500 billboard and poster displays located in 22 states. ACON will be the control shareholder in FMO, however Morris will continue to retain an important minority stake. FMO will be led by Mark Moyer, the current CEO of Fairway Outdoor, who has held this position since 2000. Mr. Moyer is also the Chairman (Ex Officio) of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America and is a Director of the Traffic Audit Bureau of America.
Commenting on the transaction, Mr. William S. Morris III, Chairman of Morris, said, “While the sale was consummated in conjunction with the financial restructuring of our newspapers, we are excited about partnering with ACON to more fully exploit the growth opportunities available in the outdoor advertising industry.”
“We believe this transaction will be a critical growth outlet for both Magic and Fairway,” said Ken Brotman, a Founding Partner of ACON. “The combined company will have the increased scale and balance sheet strength needed to prosper in the current macro-economic climate, but more importantly, it will be able to continue providing customers with a cost-effective advertising medium for them to bolster and improve their bottom line as the economy turns.”
“New advances in technology, which include digital technology and audited traffic counts, have made this an opportune time to invest in the outdoor advertising space,” said Mr. Moyer, the CEO of FMO. “Building on the success that both Fairway and Magic have achieved to date, we believe that we are well positioned to capitalize on these and other future growth opportunities.”
RBC Daniels served as an advisor to Morris. ACON funded the equity from its US middle market-focused ACON-Bastion Partners II and ACON Investment Partners investment fund vehicles.
The acquisition was completed in connection with the broader financial restructuring of the Morris Publishing Group, LLC (Morris Publishing), the newspaper publishing affiliate of Morris. On September 25, 2009, Morris Publishing announced that it had reached an agreement with certain holders of its 7% Senior Subordinated Notes due 2013 (the Existing Notes) on the terms of a restructuring of the indebtedness of Morris Publishing. In connection with the restructuring, an affiliate of ACON and affiliates of Morris Publishing have acquired a portion of the Senior Secured Loan. ACON’s portion of the Senior Secured Loan will remain senior to the Existing Notes and, upon consummation of the restructuring of the Existing Notes, Morris Publishing affiliates have agreed to cancel certain indebtedness.
ACON Investments is a Washington, D.C.-based private equity investment firm that manages private equity funds and special purpose partnerships in the United States and Latin America. Founded in 1996, ACON and its principals have managed over $1.5 billion of capital. ACON pursues a theme-based investment strategy by focusing on industries and businesses at key inflection points in their development and pursues these opportunities in close partnership with established management teams. ACON has offices in Washington, Los Angeles, Houston, Madrid, Mexico City and Sao Paulo. For more information, visit www.aconinvestments.com.
Morris Communications Company
Morris Communications Company, LLC is a privately held media company with diversified holdings that include newspaper publishing, visitor guide publishing, outdoor advertising, magazine publishing, radio broadcasting, book publishing and distribution and online services. For more information, visit the company’s restructuring website at www.morrisrestructures.com.